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Title: A Naval Venture - The War Story of an Armoured Cruiser
Author: Jeans, T. T.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Naval Venture - The War Story of an Armoured Cruiser" ***


                            A Naval Venture

                          The War Story of an
                            Armoured Cruiser


                    FLEET-SURGEON T. T. JEANS, R.N.

                   Author of "Gunboat and Gun-runner"
                  "John Graham, Sub-Lieutenant, R.N."
                       "Ford of H.M.S. Vigilant"

                  _Illustrated by Frank Gillett, R.I._

                        BLACKIE AND SON LIMITED
                       LONDON GLASGOW AND BOMBAY


In this book I have endeavoured to write a gun-room tale which will give
a general impression of the part played by the Royal Navy during the
Dardanelles operations, and of gun-room life under these conditions.

In writing it I have been greatly assisted by many shipmates—officers,
petty officers, and men—who have been employed away from the ship, on
various occasions, either on shore or in steamboats, tugs, or
motor-lighters.  From their accounts it has been possible to bring into
the book descriptions of some interesting incidents and operations which
did not come under my personal observation.

My thanks are due, more especially, to Lieutenant H. A. D. Keate, R.N.,
and to Lieutenant V. E. Kemball, R.N., of this ship, who have read
laboriously through the manuscript as it progressed, corrected many
errors of fact and detail, and suggested very many improvements to the
story as a whole.

Fleet-Surgeon, R.N.

       _27th April, 1916._



      I. The "*Achates*" goes to Sea
     II. The Gun-Room of the "*Achates*"
    III. Ordered to the Mediterranean
     IV. The Bombardment of Smyrna Forts
      V. The "*Achates*" is Shelled
     VI. A Night’s Adventure
    VII. Off to the Dardanelles
   VIII. The Landing on Gallipoli
     IX. The "River Clyde"
      X. A Night Attack
     XI. The Beach Party
    XII. Off Cape Helles
   XIII. The Army comes to a Standstill
    XIV. Submarines Appear
     XV. A Peaceful Month
    XVI. A Glorious Picnic
   XVII. A "Cutting-out" Expedition
  XVIII. Bombarding at Suvla Bay
    XIX. The Army again comes to a Standstill
     XX. Hard Work at Mudros
    XXI. The Evacuation of Suvla Bay
   XXII. A Terrible Night
  XXIII. In "Dug-outs" at Cape Helles
   XXIV. The Evacuation of Cape Helles
    XXV. The "*Achates*" Returns to Malta


"’Aim low, sonny!  Aim low!  You will see your bullet-splashes’" . . .

"The Gunnery Lieutenant now flew about, jumping from voice pipes to
range-finder and back again"

"The Lamp-post jumped up, seized the box, hoisted it on his shoulder,
and disappeared ahead"

"’Look! what an extraordinary ship!’"

"Screened lanterns!"

The Gun-room Court Martial on the China Doll

Sketch Map of Gallipoli and the Dardanelles

                           *A NAVAL VENTURE*

                              *CHAPTER I*

                   *The "*_*Achates*_*" goes to Sea*

On one miserably wet and cheerless afternoon of February, 1915, the
picket-boat of H.M.S. _Achates_ lay alongside the King’s Stairs at
Portsmouth Dockyard, whilst her crew, with their boat-hooks, kept her
from bumping herself against the lowest steps.  The rain trickled down
their glistening oilskins, and dark, angry clouds sweeping up from
behind Gosport Town on the opposite side of the harbour, and scudding
overhead, one after the other, in endless battalions, made it certain
that a south-westerly gale was raging in the Channel.

At the top of the steps, with his back to the wind and rain, his feet
wide apart, and his hands in his pockets, was the midshipman of the
boat, in oilskin, sou’wester, and sea-boots.  This was Mr. Vincent
Orpen—commonly known as the Orphan—not very tall, but sturdy and
broad-shouldered in his bulky oilskins.  Between the brim of his
dripping sou’wester and his turned-up collar showed a pair of very
humorous eyes, a determined-looking nose and mouth, and a pair of large
ears reddened by the cold and rain.

He was waiting to take the Captain—Captain Donald Macfarlane—off to
Spithead, where the _Achates_ lay, ready for sea, but this absent-minded
officer had very probably forgotten the time or place where the boat was
to meet him.

Near by, taking shelter in the lee of the signalman’s shelter-box, the
marine postman and a massive, friendly dockyard policeman were standing
with the rain dripping off them.

Presently the midshipman splashed across to them and spoke to the

"The Captain did say King’s Stairs; didn’t he?"

"King’s Stairs at two o’clock, sir; I heard him myself; King’s Stairs at
two o’clock, and it’s now past the half-hour.  He was only a-going up to
the Admiral’s office, he said; just time for me to slip outside to the
post office and back again, sir."

Down below, in the picket-boat, Jarvis, the coxswain, an old, bearded
petty officer—a Naval Reserve man—was grumbling to one of the crew: "The
Cap’n can’t never remember nothink—he’ll forget hisself one o’ these
fine days."

"This ain’t a fine day," the young A.B.—Plunky Bill—answered cheekily.

"Stow it!  I’ll give yer ’fine day’ when we gets aboard: I knows it
ain’t.  We’ll get a fair dusting-down going out to Spithead, and a good
many of you youngsters’ll wish you’d never come to sea when we gets out
in the Channel to-night."

"I ’opes we ain’t going back to the mine-bumping ’bizz’ in the North
Sea, a-waiting for to be terpadoed," Plunky Bill said presently,
viciously shoving the picket-boat’s dancing stern off the wall with his
dripping boat-hook.

"That’s about our job," growled Jarvis.  "Better blow up yer
swimmin’-collar when you gets aboard, and tie it around yer bloomin’

"A precious lot of good they collars be—with sea-boots and oilskins on,
and the water as cold as charity."

"Nobody’s askin’ you to wear it.  When you feels you wants to drown,
quick, just ’and it over to me—I don’t.  Dare say you ain’t got no one
to miss yer; I ’ave—a missus and six kids," growled the coxswain.

Just then the trap hatch of the stokehold flapped up, and out of the
small square opening emerged the bare head of the stoker of the
picket-boat—an old, grey-headed Naval Reserve man, who actually wore
gold spectacles, the effect of which on his coal-begrimed face was very
quaint.  He looked round him in a patient, dignified manner, and sniffed
at the wind and rain.

There was a shout from the top of the steps, and Mr. Orpen, with his
hands to his mouth, called down: "Keep out of the rain, Fletcher—don’t
be an ass!"

The old man did not hear; but one of the boat’s crew for’ard bawled out
to him: "’Ere, close down yer blooming ’atch—chuck it, grandpa—shut yer
face in—the Orphan’s a-singing out to yer—’e’s nuts on yer ’ealth, ’e
is."  The old stoker, wiping his rain-spotted spectacles, meekly obeyed,
pulled the hatch over his head, and disappeared from view.

Then the postman, with his big, leather letter-bag, clattered down,
splashing the puddles on the steps. "The Cap’n’s coming at last," he
said, and stowed himself away under the fore peak.

Down came Mr. Orpen, jumped aboard, and took the steering-wheel.  A
moment later, and after him came the tall, gaunt figure of the Captain,
the rain trickling off the gold oak-leaves on the peak of his cap,
dripping off his long, thin nose and running down his yellowish-red
moustache and pointed beard. His greatcoat was glistening with
raindrops, and his trousers beneath it were soaked and sticking to his
thin shins.

"I forgot to bring my waterproof," he said.  "I’m not late, am I?" and
nodding cheerfully, he stepped into the boat.

Mr. Orpen saluted.  "Shall I carry on, sir?"

The Captain nodded again; Jarvis shouted out orders; the boat’s bows
were shoved off, the engines thumped, and the picket-boat, starting on
her stormy passage to Spithead, bumped the steps with her stern—the last
time, had she known it, that she would ever touch England.

The crew dived down below under the fore peak and shut the hatch on top
of them, for they knew well what was coming.  It came right enough.

Directly the picket-boat left the shelter of the harbour mouth she began
to reel and stagger as she steamed along Southsea beach, past the ends
of the deserted piers, with the sea on her beam, washing over her and
jostling her.  Then she turned round the Spit Buoy, and head on to the
wind and rain, plunged her way through the short seas, diving and
lifting, throwing up clouds of spray which smacked loudly against the
oilskins of the midshipman at the wheel and the coxswain hanging on by
his side.

As one wave came over the bows, rushed aft along the engine-room sides
and swirled round their feet, and its spray, tossed up by the fo’c’sle
gun-mounting and by the funnel, covered them from head to foot, Jarvis
roared: "Better ease her a bit, sir."

But the Orphan was enjoying himself hugely.  He knew the old boat; he
knew exactly what she could "stand", and he was not going to ease down
until it was absolutely necessary, or until Captain Macfarlane made him;
and the Captain was still sitting in the stern-sheets, tugging,
absent-mindedly, at his pointed yellow beard, apparently having
forgotten where he was, and that if only he went into the cabin he could
keep dry.

The picket-boat throbbed and trembled and shook herself, butted into a
wave which seemed to bring her up "all standing", swept through it or
over it, then charged into another; and as the battered remnants of the
waves flung themselves in the Orphan’s face and smacked loudly against
his oilskins he only grinned, shook his head, and peered ahead from
beneath the turned-down brim of his sou’wester.

Jarvis, the coxswain, was not enjoying himself. He hated getting
wet—that meant "a bout of rheumatics", and he had a "missus and six

Gradually the picket-boat fought her way out to the black-and-white
chequered mass of the Spit Fort, until the four funnels and long, grey
hull of the _Achates_ showed through the rain squalls beyond.

A solitary steamboat, on her way ashore, came rushing towards them—a
smother of foam, smoke, and spray; and as she staggered past, only a few
yards away, with the following seas surging round her stern, Orpen waved
a hand to the solitary figure in glistening oilskins at her wheel—a
midshipman "pal" of his from another ship—who waved back cheerily and
disappeared to leeward as a squall swept down between the two boats.

"A nice little trip he’ll have, off, sir—if he don’t come back soon,"
the coxswain shouted when the last wave’s spray had run off the brim of
his sou’wester and he’d caught his breath.  "It’s breezin’ up every
minute, sir!"

Once past the Spit Fort, the picket-boat was in deeper water; the seas
became longer, not so steep, and she took them more easily.  Orpen
needed only one hand now to keep her on her course, and in ten minutes
he steered her under the stern of the _Achates_, and brought her
alongside the starboard quarter.

The Captain, dripping with water, jumped on the foot of the ladder as a
wave swung the picket-boat’s stern close to it.  Half-way up the ladder
a sudden humorous thought struck him, and, bending down, he called out:
"You did not ease down all the time, did you, Mr. Orpen?"

"No, sir," Orpen sang back, grinning with the happiness of everything.
He didn’t worry in the least—so long as the Captain didn’t mind—that he
had, by forcing his boat through the seas, wetted him to the skin, and
kept him wet for the last twenty minutes.

The officer of the watch shouted "Hook on!" and the picket-boat was
hauled ahead under the main derrick, until the big hook dangling from
the "purchase" swung above the boat.  The crew made the bow and stern
lines fast; Fletcher, the old stoker, drew himself up on deck and
lowered the funnel, steam roared away from the "escape"; one seaman
struggled with the ring of the boat’s slings, holding it chest-high;
another waited his opportunity, when a wave lifted the picket-boat, to
seize the big hook hanging above him; the ring was slipped over it; the
midshipman waved his hand and shouted; the slings tautened as the order
"up purchase and topping lift" was given; a last wave lopped over the
bows, and with a jerk she was hoisted clear of the water and quickly
swung inboard.

Up on the quarter-deck the Captain was talking to the Commander—a wiry
little man with a weather-beaten face and a grim, hard mouth.  "Same old
job, sir?" he asked.

The Captain nodded ruefully.  "It’s all the poor old _Achates_ is fit

"You’re pretty well soaked, sir.  Rather a wet passage off?"

"I forgot to go into the cabin," the Captain laughed.

"We’re ready for sea, sir.  I shortened in, as you were rather late."

"Was I?" the Captain’s eyes twinkled.  "Right you are!  I’ll be up again
in a minute.  I must get into dry things, or the Fleet Surgeon will be
on my tracks"—and he disappeared below.

In half an hour the _Achates_ was under way and steaming out into the
Channel and the gale.

This ended her week’s "rest"—the second "rest" since the war broke out,
six months before.  Now she was off again to the North Sea, with its
constant gales, its mine-fields, its enemy submarines, and the grim
delight of frequent hurried coalings.

It was not a very pleasing prospect.

                              *CHAPTER II*

                    *The Gun-room of the "Achates"*

Having seen his picket-boat safely landed in her crutches on the booms,
the Orphan dived down below to the gun-room to dry himself in front of
the blazing stove there.

The gun-room was a long, untidy place on the starboard side of the
main-deck, just for’ard of the after 6-inch-gun casemate.  A long table,
covered with a red cloth, of the usual Service pattern, and rather more
than usually torn and stained with grease, occupied most of the deck
space, and was now laden with plates, cups and saucers, and, down the
middle, in one gorgeous line, tins of jam, loaves of bread, fat pats of
butter, and slabs of splendidly indigestible cake.

Long benches, covered with leather cushions, were fixed each side of it,
whilst a few chairs, in various stages of decay, were drawn up round the
stove and the upset copper coal-box.  The after bulkhead of this
sumptuous abode was occupied by midshipmen’s lockers—rows of them one
above the other—and from the half-open locker doors peeped boots and
books, woollen helmets, sweaters, and safety waistcoats.

Along the foremost bulkhead was a corticine-covered sideboard with
drawers for knives, forks, and spoons, cupboards for bottles, and a cosy
gap for a barrel of beer.  Above the sideboard, at either end of it,
there were two little sliding-doors in the bulkhead, for the plates and
food to be passed in from the pantry beyond, and for the dirty plates to
be passed out.  Between these two sliding-hatches, pictures of beautiful
ladies taken from the last Christmas Number of the Sketch had been
gummed on to the bare expanse of dirty-white paint, and gave an air of
brightness and refinement to an otherwise somewhat depressing interior.

The outer bulkhead—the outer side—the ship’s side—had been white—once.
Along it were five scuttles, at present closely screwed up, and the tail
ends of waves occasionally swished angrily across them.  In the spaces
between these scuttles, war maps, most of them torn and ragged, had been
pasted to the iron-work, and one or two pin-flags still managed to hold
fast, though the vast array that had once fluttered across them had long
since disappeared.

At each end of the inner bulkhead was a door leading out into the
"half-deck", and between them were more lockers, the roaring, smoking
stove, its brass chimney, and the upset coal-box.  Behind the brass
chimney hung a tattered green-baize notice-board on which were pinned a
few dusty long-forgotten gun-room orders; whilst from hooks above it
hung a cheap alarum clock and five damaged wrist-watches, each in its
strap, and each labelled with an official report of the "scrap" during
which it had met its honourable fate.

Newspapers and magazines littered untidily the corticine-covered deck; a
gramophone box, a couple of greatcoats, and a green cricket bag lay
piled in one corner near the lockers; some sextant boxes and two pairs
of sea-boots filled another.

Overhead, between the deck beams, wooden battens were fixed, and above
them squeezed a motley assortment of greatcoats, golf-bags, cricket
pads, and oilskins.  Almost anywhere in the gun-room you could put up
your hand without looking, and pull down an oilskin or a greatcoat,
which, of course, was most convenient, unless you pulled down half a
dozen golf-clubs on your head at the same time, when naturally the
convenience was not so noticeable.

When the Orphan came in, throwing his wet sou-wester and oilskin into
the corner on top of the gramophone box, the only other gun-room officer
there was the "China Doll"—the Assistant Clerk.  Only just "caught" he
was, a very youthful young gentleman of, so far, unblemished reputation,
with a pink-and-white face, and a trick of opening and shutting his very
big and very blue eyes so exactly like a doll that he had been
christened "China Doll" directly he had joined the Honourable Mess.

He was engaged busily toasting bread in front of the stove with the long
gun-room toasting-fork, and this was probably his most important duty on
board—the duty of making toast for seven-bell tea; the first piece for
the Sub-lieutenant, the second for the senior snotty, and the third for
that very senior officer—his very senior officer—the Clerk—Uncle Podger.

He had just finished the first piece as the Orphan entered, and looked
up, blinking his eyes excitedly.

"What’s the news, Orphan?  Did the Captain tell you what we’re going to

"Late again, China Doll; five minutes after seven bells, and only one
piece of toast ready; you’ll catch it when the others come along."

In spite of his protests the Orphan grabbed that piece of toast,
buttered it and began eating it, standing in front of the stove whilst
the China Doll hurriedly began to toast another slice, between the
Orphan’s legs, and implored him for news of where the ship was going,
and what she was to do.  But the Orphan was much too busy eating to take
any notice; and just as the first slice disappeared and he was licking
his fingers, he heard a clattering of sea-boots down the ladder from the
deck, and as four dripping snotties poured in, he seized the
toasting-fork, pushed the China Doll on one side, and calmly finished
toasting the second slice.

These four new-comers were the "Pink Rat", "Bubbles", the "Hun", and
Rawlins.  The Pink Rat was the senior snotty—a small-sized youngster
whom anyone could spot as the Pink Rat, because he had a thin, sharp,
ferrety-looking face, very pink complexion, beady eyes, prominent teeth,
and long mouse-coloured hair brushed straight back from his forehead and
plastered down with grease.  Bubbles was half as big again as the Pink
Rat, with a fat, red, honest face, creased with continual chuckling, and
a fat, red neck which always seemed to swell over his collars.  He had
something wrong with his nose, and couldn’t breathe through it very
well, so that when he was laughing—he generally was—he used to throw his
head back, open his mouth to breathe, and make the most extraordinary
bubbling noises.  The Hun, the third to enter, looked a very gentle
snotty, very refined and quiet—quiet, that is, compared with the others.
He was not big or strong; but when he once was "roused" he would always
join the weaker side in a "scrap", and then became so violently excited
that whatever he gripped he gripped with all his might—like a wild cat.
He had nearly choked Bubbles once; and the Pink Rat never forgot how, at
another time, he had nearly pulled out a handful of his hair.  He always
apologized afterwards.  Rawlins, whose proper name was Rawlinson—the
last of these four—was a brawny youth with an odd hatchet-shaped head,
quite as good-natured as Bubbles, and the least talkative member of the
Honourable Mess.  He was always willing to look out for a pal’s "watch"
or boat duty, in itself enough to make anyone very popular.

The Pink Rat, Bubbles, and Rawlins, seeing no toast waiting for them,
dashed at the China Doll, charged him into a corner, threw their wet
oilskins over him, and fell in a heap on top.

"Toast must be ready!" they yelled as they allowed him to get up.

"I can’t make it fast enough when the Orphan’s here, alone; look at
him—that’s his second."

The Orphan had just taken a huge bite out of the new piece; with a rush
they threw themselves on him; in the mêlée of feet, legs, and chairs the
China Doll captured the toasting-fork, stuck another bit of bread on it,
and crouched in front of the fire again.

The general scramble was terminated by the noise of the pantry hatch
sliding back, and an enormous, purple-faced marine servant, in his
shirt-sleeves, pushed in a big teapot.

"Come along, Barnes, cut us some more bread; open a tin of ’sharks’;
where’ve you put my biscuits?" they called at him.

By this time the third piece of toast was done to a turn; and the Pink
Rat, in the absence of the Sub, on watch, was just going to claim it,
when in came Uncle Podger—the Clerk—a broad-shouldered, squat youth,
with a breezy, cheery countenance, and ruffled hair, who had been
promoted to the exalted rank of Clerk exactly three weeks before, and
had, therefore, been just a year and three weeks in the Service.

His arrival was greeted with shouts of "Uncle Podger, your minion is
slack again at the toast business.  The China Doll must be beaten."

The Assistant Clerk dodged the Pink Rat and wriggled free, squealing out
that this piece was for the Sub.

"He’ll beat me if it isn’t ready.  He’ll be down from the bridge in a
minute," he laughed, and took shelter behind his superior officer,
explaining that "he’d done one for the Sub, and the Orphan ate that;
another for the Pink Rat, and the Orphan had eaten that too; the Sub
must have this, mustn’t he?"

"Then this is the third," Uncle Podger said with mock gravity.  "You
were wrong, my young subordinate, very wrong indeed, to give away those
other pieces; this one is mine."  He gently removed the beautifully
browned bread from the prongs of the fork.

"Yes—sir," said the China Doll, dropping his eyelids and pretending to
be very humble.

"By the King’s Regulations and Gun-room Instructions, there can be no
doubt about it, can there?"

"No—sir; no possible doubt whatever—no possible, probable, possible
doubt whatever."

The Clerk, glaring majestically at his subordinate officer’s
familiarity, promptly proceeded to butter and then to eat the slice;
whilst the others, crowding round the stove with bits of bread on the
ends of knives, tried their best to toast them.

Then the Sub did come in—a man of medium height, shoulders broader than
Uncle Podger’s, a complexion tanned by exposure to the wind and rain,
black hair over a broad forehead, thick black eyebrows over deep-set
grey eyes which had a knack of looking through and through anyone he
spoke to, a thin Roman nose with a bridge that generally had a bit of
the skin off (the remains of his last "scrap"), firm upper lip, a
tremendous lower jaw, and a neck like a bull. He came in with his
swaggering gait and aggressive shoulders, unbuttoning his dripping
oilskin and roaring loudly.

"What ho! without! bring hither the toasted crumpet, the congealed juice
of the cow, and we will toy with them anon!  Varlets, disrobe me, for I
am weary with much watching."

"Hast a savoury dish prepared for me, you pen-driving incubus, you blot
on the landscape?" he roared again at the China Doll, who stood with
eyes opening and shutting and mouth wide open, watching two of the
snotties hauling off the Sub’s oilskin.

"Where’s my toast?" he roared ferociously.

"Here, sir," and the Assistant Clerk patted the Orphan’s stomach, and
fled for safety to the ship’s office, where he knew he would be safe
from instant death, because the Fleet Paymaster, though he would "scrap"
with anyone, at any time, anywhere else, would not allow any skylarking
there; nor would the stern Chief Writer, whose sanctum it was; and they
had to keep friends with the Chief Writer, or never a pen-nib or a piece
of blotting-paper would they get when they ran short of these things.

Two more snotties came into the gun-room after the China Doll had

These were the "Lamp-post" and the "Pimple", the tallest and the
shortest in the Mess—the Pimple a little chap with a broad flat face,
and a tiny red nose in the middle of it.  He was the Navigator’s
"doggy", and that communicative and ingenious officer was always giving
him the latest news—news which he, more often than not, invented
himself.  The joy of the Pimple’s existence was to have some "news" to
tell the others.  He was a bully in a very small way, and extremely
deferential to the Sub and the ward-room officers.

The Lamp-post was a tall, stooping snotty with sloping shoulders; his
clothes were always too small for him, and his long thin arms and legs
were always in his own way and in that of everyone else.  Set him down
at a piano and he was marvellous; the joy of his life was to be asked to
play the ward-room piano.  He could play anything he had ever heard; and
inside his aristocratic head were more brains than the rest of the
snotties possessed between them, the only one who did not know that
being himself.

The whole of the Honourable Mess—with the exception of the escaped China
Doll—being now assembled, seven-bell tea pursued its usual course—a
cross between a picnic and a dog-fight—until the bugle sounded "man and
arm ship", and there was a hurried scramble for oilskins and caps as
all, except Uncle Podger, dashed away to their stations.

The ship had now cleared the Isle of Wight and felt the force of the
gale.  She began to pitch and roll heavily as the heavy seas threw
themselves against her starboard bow and rushed along her side.

A minute or two after the "man and arm ship" bugle had sounded, the
China Doll strolled jauntily in and started afresh with his afternoon

"When you, Mr. Assistant Clerk, have served as long as I have,"
commenced Uncle Podger gravely, "you may perhaps learn to realize that
cheeking your seniors is punishable by death, or such other punishment
as is hereinafter mentioned."

"Pass us the sugar, Podgy, there’s a good chap," grinned that very
insubordinate officer, as a lurch of the ship threw the sugar-basin into
the Clerk’s lap.

"Man and arm ship" having passed off satisfactorily, the ship went to
"night defence" stations, and the bugle sounded "darken ship".

Barnes, the purple-faced marine servant, still in his shirt-sleeves,
came in and solemnly closed down the dead-lights, screwing the steel
plates over the glass scuttles, and then proceeded to clear away the
debris of seven-bell tea.

Most of the snotties now trooped down from the upper deck to warm
themselves round the stove.

                             *CHAPTER III*

                     *Ordered to the Mediterranean*

Up above, under the fore bridge, the Orphan, looking like an undersized
elephant, with all his warm clothes under his oilskins, tramped from
port to starboard, and back again round the conning-tower.  The crews of
his four 6-pounders were clustered round their guns, hunched up in all
sorts of winter clothing. Many of them wore their duffel jackets with
great gauntleted gloves drawn up over their sleeves, and had already
pulled the hoods of their jackets over their heads, giving them the
appearance of Eskimo or Arctic explorers; the others were in oilskins
padded out with jerseys, jumpers, flannels, and thick vests.

Once issue warm clothing to a bluejacket and never will he leave it off,
whatever the temperature, unless he is made to do so.

The chirpy little gunner’s mate had reported "all correct, sir, guns
cleared away, night-sight circuits switched on, sir, and four rounds a
gun ready."

The Orphan had reported himself to the officer of the watch, on the
bridge above him, and now had nothing to do, for the best part of two
hours, but walk up and down and keep warm.

"They tells me that one of ’em submarines was nosing round these parts
two days ago, sir," one of his petty officers said, as he stopped at one
gun, looked through the telescope sight, and tested the electric
circuit.  "It ain’t much weather for the poor murdering blighters."

It was not.  Darkness was rapidly closing in, and the gale howled
angrily out of the west, driving masses of dark rain-clouds and a heavy
sea before it.

The _Achates_ dipped her fo’c’sle constantly, and when she lifted and
shook herself, the spray shot up far above her bridge screens.

The Orphan and his guns’ crews on the wind’ard side would feel the ship
quiver as a wave thudded against the casemate below them, and then had
just time to duck their heads before millions of icy particles of spray
soused viciously over them.

Presently the Orphan took shelter in the lee of the conning-tower and
leant moodily against it, thinking of the warmth and gaiety of the dance
he had been at the night before, also of a certain little lady in white
and blue.

In peace time it is depressing enough to leave a cosy harbour, and face
a wild winter’s night in the Channel; but in war time the chance of
blowing up on a mine and the risk of being torpedoed make the strain
very considerable.

For the first night and the first day or two, most people are inclined
to be rather "jumpy"; though afterwards this feeling wears off quickly,
and one leaves everything to "fate" and ceases to worry.

Only a few days before, Germany had announced to the world the
commencement of her submarine blockade of the English coast, so the
Channel was probably already swarming with submarines; though even the
Orphan, depressed and miserable as he was then, could not have imagined
that these submarines had orders to sink merchant ships and mail
steamers at sight and without warning, and that a civilized nation had
sunk so low, nineteen hundred years after Christ was born into the
world, as to plot the whole-sale murder of inoffensive women and

But he was miserable enough without knowing that, and opening up his
oilskin coat, practised blowing up his safety waistcoat.  Then he
wondered whether his guns’ crews had their swimming-collars with them—as
was ordered—and went from gun to gun, dodging the spray, to find out.

It was quite dark now, the foc’s’le and the turret below were invisible,
and he had to grope his way along to find the guns’ crews by hearing
them talk or stumbling against them.

One or two of the men had lost their collars; another had burst his
trying how big he could blow it; others had left them down below in
their kit-bags or lashed in their hammocks.

Plunky Bill, the cheeky A.B. belonging to the picket-boat, was the only
one who had his.  The gunner’s mate explained that "Plunky Bill ’ad a
sweet’eart in Portsmouth what was fair gone on ’im, and ’ad made ’im
promise to always wear ’is collar".

Plunky Bill evidently thought he had a grievance, and growled out that
"’E wasn’t going to be bothered with young females, not ’im; a-making
’im look so foolish-like".

"Well, they ain’t no use, nohow," the gunner’s mate grunted, jerking a
thumb towards the heavy sea.

"Any news, sir?" the gunner’s mate shouted, when he and the Orphan had
regained the lee of the conning-tower, round which solid icy spray
swished almost continuously.  "The Ruskies are giving it to them
Austrians in the neck, proper like, ain’t they, sir?"

"Didn’t hear any," the miserable Orphan shouted back.

"D’you know where we’re off to?" the other asked.

"North Sea again," the Orphan told him.

The gunner’s mate had no use for the North Sea—never wanted to see it
again, and said so in blood-curdling language.

"What about the Dardanelles, sir?" he asked a moment later.  "That’s the
place I’d like to be in. There’s a sight of old ’tubs’ gone out there.
Any news, sir?"

But the Orphan had heard none, and climbed up on the bridge above to
have a yarn with the midshipman of the watch—the Pimple.

He was full of schemes for "ragging" the China Doll.

"Patting your ’tummy’, Orphan; that was cheek if you like! and the Sub
didn’t like it either."

The Pimple was very deferential to the Sub—rather too much so; what the
Sub did and what he said made up most of the Pimple’s daily existence.
"He’d like us to take it out of the China Doll, wouldn’t he?"

"Don’t be an ass.  Let the China Doll alone—it’s too beastly wet and
cold to bother about him.  What about that cake you ’sharked’ off the
table?"  So the Pimple, ever ready to ingratiate himself with anyone,
produced a big wedge of gun-room cake out of his greatcoat pocket, and
the two of them, crouching under the weather screens, munched away

It was so dark that they could not see the look-out man, who was holding
the brim of his sou’wester over his eyes to shield him from the rain and
the spray, and trying to pierce the blackness of the stormy night in
front of him.  Both snotties were startled by a sudden cry from him:
"Something a-’ead, sir!  on the starboard bow, sir!"  Another look-out
also spotted something; everyone tried to see it; the officer of the
watch dashed to the end of the bridge and peered through his
night-glasses; the gunner’s mate, down below, could be heard shouting to
the guns’ crews to "close up"; the breeches of the guns snapped to as
they were loaded; and the Orphan, stuffing the remnants of the cake in
his pocket, scrambled down the ladder.

"There it is, sir!  There!  there!—I can see it!’ came excitedly out of
the darkness.  Everyone thought of submarines.

"Just like one, sir!" a signalman bawled to the officer of the watch,
who yelled to the Quartermaster "hard-a-port", and rushed into the
wheel-house to see that he did it.

At that moment a bobbing light began flickering out of the darkness
ahead—a signal lamp.

"It’s the challenge, sir," the signalman shouted.

"All right; reply; bring her on her course, Quartermaster.  Starboard
your helm, hard-a-starboard!" shouted the officer of the watch coolly;
and as the _Achates’_ bows swung back again, she swerved past a long,
black object down below in the water, with its twittering signal light
tossed about like a spark from a chimney on a dark night, and by that
faint light they could just see the outline of three funnels before the
light was shut off and everything disappeared.

It was only a patrolling destroyer.  One could not see her rolling, or
the seas breaking over her, but one could realize the horrible
discomfort aboard her.

"Poor devils!—a rotten night to be out in—we nearly bumped into her,"
thought the officer of the watch, jumping to the telephone bell from the
Captain’s cabin, which was ringing excitedly.

"Nothing, sir; a patrol destroyer; had to alter course to clear her.
No, sir, the wind is steady, sir."

It was six o’clock now—four bells clanged below—the first dog-watch was
finished, and presently the Pink Rat came up to relieve the Orphan.

"Jolly slack on it!" grumbled the Orphan as he bumped into him and dived
down below.

The easiest way aft was along the mess deck—the upper deck was so
dark—and as the Orphan passed through one of the stokers’ messes he saw
Fletcher, the old stoker of his picket-boat, sitting at a mess table,
all alone, under an electric light, his face buried in his hands, and a
Bible before him.

"What’s the matter, Fletcher? you look jolly mouldy," he said, stopping
at the end of the table. "What’s the matter?  Bad news?"

"Yes, sir," he said gently, standing up, one hand pushing his gold
spectacles back on his nose, the other marking the place in the book.
"A letter from my wife.  Our last boy’s been killed in France, sir.
That’s the third; he was a corporal, sir."

His old, refined, tired face looked so abjectly miserable that the
Orphan did not know what to say. "Come and get a drink.  That’ll buck
you up," he stuttered.

But Fletcher shook his head.  "I’m an abstainer, sir; thank you very
much."  And the snotty, muttering "I’m sorry", went away along the rest
of the noisy, crowded mess deck towards the gun-room.

There was comparative quiet there.  The Sub and Uncle Podger were
sitting in front of the stove, reading.

"You know old Fletcher—the stoker of my boat; he’s frightfully
miserable; he’s sitting down in his mess looking awful; he’s just heard
that his last son’s been killed; I wish we could do something for him.
The letter must have come when I brought off the postman."

"How about a drink?" asked the Sub, scratching his head.  "I _am_

"Who’s that?" asked Uncle Podger; "that old chap with the gold specs?"

The Orphan nodded.

"Fancy having to stick it out—all the misery of it—in a mess deck, with
hundreds of chaps cursing and joking all round you," the Sub said.  "I
don’t see what we can do to help him."

"You’ve got a cabin," Uncle Podger suggested. "Get him down in it; shut
him in for an hour. What he wants most is to be alone."

"Right oh!" said the Sub, springing to his feet. "I’ve got the first
watch; he can stay there till ’pipe down’;" and he sent Barnes, the
purple-faced marine, to find Fletcher and tell him that the
Sub-lieutenant wanted him at once in his cabin.

The Sub, swinging his mighty shoulders, stalked down to his cabin, and
presently there was a knock outside, and Fletcher peered in.  "Yes,

"I’ve just heard, Fletcher," the Sub said, holding out his hand.  "We
are all very sorry; you’d like to be by yourself for a while.  Stay here
till ’pipe down’; no one shall come near you."

He pushed the old man down in the chair, drew the door across, and went
into the gun-room.

A few minutes later the Pimple, who had been to his chest, outside the
Sub’s cabin, came in.

"Old Fletcher’s blubbing like anything," he said. "I heard him."

"Get out of it, you little beast!" roared out the Sub. "Get out of the
gun-room till dinnertime.  Who told you to go sneaking round?" and Uncle
Podger got in a well-judged kick which deposited the miserable Pimple on
the deck outside.

The Orphan had the "middle" watch that night, so he turned into his
hammock early, and was roughly shaken before it seemed to him that he
had been to sleep a minute.

"Still raining?" he grunted to the corporal of the watch who had called
him, as he climbed out and hunted round for his clothes.

"Raining and blowing ’orrible!"

He groped his way for’ard, only half awake, stumbling on the unsteady
slippery deck-plates, barking his shins against a coaming, and bumping
into the rest of the watch as they came up from the lighted mess deck
like blind men.  He "took over" from the snotty of the first watch, and,
as soon as his sleepy eyes had become accustomed to the darkness, began
pacing up and down across the narrow deck.

The gale still howled wildly through the fore shrouds, the wet signal
halyards still flapped noisily against each other, and the rain still
came driving under the bridge; but by this time the _Achates_ had
altered course and was running up-Channel, so had the seas on her
starboard quarter, and though she was rolling heavily no spray came over
her.  That was one thing to be thankful for, the Orphan thought, as he
looked into the utter blackness ahead of him.

Presently he leant against the conning-tower.  But there was nothing for
his eyes to rest on, and the screaming of the gale and the roaring of
the rushing seas mingling together to make one continual, tumultuous
clamour in his ears, lulled him nearly to sleep.

He started—he thought he was dancing with the little lady in white and
blue—grinned to himself, and went up on the bridge to have a yarn with
Bubbles, who was now the midshipman of the watch; tracked him by his
laugh and his snorting noise; doubled up he was, at some yarn the
Navigating Lieutenant was telling him—he always laughed long before a
yarn came to an end!

"The ass jumped on to the top of the conning-tower—got an arm round the
periscope tube, and began banging away at the periscope with a hammer!"
the Navigator was shouting as the Orphan came up. (Bubbles threw his
head back and roared.)  "He’d only got in a few whacks when the old
submarine began to dive; down went the conning-tower and the periscope,
and the last that was seen of him was a hand and a hammer giving one
last whack!"

Bubbles choked and snorted with laughter.

"What was it—a German submarine—was he drowned—did they catch the
submarine?" the Orphan asked.

"Yes, they did.  It had been badly hit before. We swept for it, and
found it three days later, and the brave ass was still clinging to the
periscope tube with his feet twisted round the conning-tower rail."

"Who was he?" gasped Bubbles when he could stop laughing.

"No one in particular, only the deck hand of a trawler," the Navigator
said, in his cynical way.

Mr. Meredith, the officer of the watch, a tall, good-looking Naval
Reserve lieutenant with a weather-beaten face, and rather bald-headed,
came up.  "It’s five bells, you fellows.  How about some cocoa?  I’ve
got a tin of gingerbreads."

"That’s the ticket, old chap!" the Navigator cried, and Bubbles was sent
off to make the cocoa and bring it up to the chart-house.

Ten minutes later, the cheery chart-house was filled with the fragrant
odour of cocoa, the Navigator’s charts had been rolled aside; two were
sitting on the table, the other on the settee which was the Navigator’s
bed at sea, all with steaming cups of cocoa in their hands.

"Where’s the ’War Baby’?  Go and fetch the War Baby," the Navigator
shouted; so off Bubbles went, the light going out as the door slid back,
and coming on again as it closed and "made" the electric circuit.

Presently, in came the youngest-looking thing in soldiers anyone ever
saw, with a face as pink and white as the China Doll’s, and the first
buds of a tiny moustache on his upper lip.

"It’s perfectly damnable outside," he piped in his girlish voice, as he
seized a biscuit and a cup of cocoa.

"Hullo!" sang out the Navigator, as they all heard a knock on a door
beneath them; "there’s someone banging at the Skipper’s door."  (The
Captain, when at sea, slept in a tiny cabin immediately beneath the
chart-house and above the shelter deck.)

They heard the Captain’s voice calling "Come in"; and the Navigator,
seizing his glasses, and singing out that "the Captain would be up on
the bridge in a jiffy—he always does if anyone wakes him," went out,
followed by the others.

In a minute the Captain came up, shouting for him.

"Here I am, sir."

He seized the Navigator by the arm excitedly—the Captain was seldom
anything but calm—and drew him into the chart-house.  "Read this," he
said, snapping his jaws together and sticking out his little pointed
beard, as the door was closed and the light glared out.

The Navigator read: "_Achates_ is to proceed with dispatch to Malta,
calling at Gibraltar for coal if necessary."

"That means the Dardanelles, sir!  Finish North Sea, sir?"

Captain Macfarlane looked down at him with twinkling eyes and smiled

In five minutes’ time the _Achates_ had ported her helm and was on her
new course; the news had flown round the bridge, been bellowed down
below to the guns’ crews, and shouted down the voice-pipes to the

"We’re off to Malta!—the Dardanelles!" and everyone who passed the good
news added, "Finish North Sea.  Thank God!"

The sober, obsolete old _Achates_ seemed to know where she was bound.
On her new course she once more faced the gale and the seas, diving and
pitching, shaking and trembling, throwing the wild spray crashing
against the weather screens, flying over the bridge and pattering
against the funnels.

What cared she, or anyone aboard her, however wildly the gale blew!

                              *CHAPTER IV*

                   *The Bombardment of Smyrna Forts*

The _Achates_ arrived at Gibraltar on the fourth morning out from
Spithead, and went alongside the South Mole to coal, just as the warm
Mediterranean sun rose above the top of the grand old rock.

The gun-room officers—-everybody, in fact—were in the highest spirits.
It was grand to have left behind the dreary, cold English winter, and it
was grander still to be on the way to the Dardanelles.  Best of all,
they could now go to sea without worrying about submarines and mines.

Two days from Gibraltar the daily wireless telegram from England told
them that the forts at the entrance to the Dardanelles had been
silenced, and that landing-parties were being sent ashore to demolish

"Why couldn’t they have waited?  We shall be too late; we shall miss all
the fun," they cried sadly, down in the gun-room; "just come in for the
tail end of everything; they’ll be up at Constantinople by the time we
get there; what sickening rot!"

"If you’d seen as much fighting as I have," Uncle Podger said
solemnly—he’d only been a year in the Service, and seen none—"you’d——"

But he wasn’t allowed to finish.  They shouted:

"Dogs of war!  Out, Accountant Branch!" and rolled him and the China
Doll on the deck until Barnes banged the trap-door with the
porridge-spoon to let them know that breakfast was ready.

At Malta there was another hurried coaling.

It was here they heard that the _Bacchante_, their chummy ship—a sister
ship—the ship which had been next to them in the North Sea patrol—had
already passed through Malta bound for the Dardanelles.

It was, of course, the Pimple who heard this first, and who climbed down
into a coal lighter alongside to tell the Sub.  The Sub, black and
grimy, grinned. "We’ll get a chance to knock spots out of them at
’soccer’, somewhere or other," he said, joyfully rubbing some of the
coal-dust on his sleeve over the Pimple’s excited and fairly clean face.

"I hope they haven’t found out about the sea-gulls," the Pimple said;
but the Sub hadn’t any more time to talk to him.

The sea-gull incident was rather a sore point with the _Bacchante_

That ship had not yet fired a gun; the _Achates_ had, and the
_Bacchante_ snotties were jealous and didn’t believe it.  All they could
find out was that their rival’s after 9.2-inch gun had fired at a
submarine early one morning.

"What happened?" they would ask.  "Did you hit it?"

"Well, we didn’t see it again," the _Achates_ gun-room would answer.
"We must have hit it."

They always forgot to mention that this submarine had turned out to be a
dozen or more sea-gulls sitting close together; and they had told the
story so often—of course leaving out the sea-gull part—that they very
much hoped that their chummy ship would never get hold of the proper
yarn.  If once they knew, their legs would be pulled unmercifully.

It would not have mattered so much if one of the Lieutenants or the
Commander had made the mistake; but the worst of it was that the Sub had
been on watch at the time, so the snotties, the China Doll, and Uncle
Podger would have perjured themselves for ever, rather than give away
the secret.

At Malta a passenger came on board, a tortoise about eight inches long.
Who brought him no one knew, but in a day or two old Fletcher the stoker
had adopted him as his own.  The old man loved to sit on the boat deck
by the hour in the sun, with "Kaiser Bill"—as the men called the
tortoise—and feed the ungainly wrinkled brute with bits of cabbage.

Malta was left behind; the weather grew hot; white trousers were ordered
to be worn, and were scarce—no one had expected to be sent to a warm
climate—but those who had them shared with those who hadn’t; the China
Doll borrowed a pair, much too big for him, from Uncle Podger; those who
had none, and would not borrow, wore their flannel trousers.  Of course
the Pink Rat turned out in beautifully creased white ducks and spotless
shoes; the Pink Rat always carried about with him a very extensive
wardrobe, though where he stowed it all, no one could imagine.

But no one bothered about clothes.  It was so glorious to be warm again,
and to be on their way to "do" something and fire their guns.

"At something better than sea-gulls!" said the Orphan, grinning with
delight.  "We’ll have shells coming all round us; you’ll get plenty of
them, up in your old foretop, China Doll; you and your range-finder will
be blown sky-high in no time.  Won’t that be fun?"

The China Doll opened and shut his eyes, and simply trembled with

"The China Doll has his legs blown off!" shouted the Pink Rat—the senior
snotty.  "First aid on the China Doll!"

With a rush the snotties tumbled him on his back. "Lie still!" they
yelled.  "Stop kicking—your legs are blown off—you haven’t got any!"

"If I haven’t got any, you won’t feel me kicking!" the China Doll
squeaked, lashing out with his feet.

Whilst two ran for a bamboo stretcher, the others captured his legs and
tied them together with handkerchiefs and table napkins, so tightly that
the victim cried for mercy.  The stretcher was brought; they lashed him
in it; lashed his arms in, to prevent him grabbing at the furniture and
shouting and yelling, ran him aft along the deck to lower him down into
the Gunner’s store-room, below the armoured deck, where the doctors set
up their operating table at "Action" station.

Fortunately for the China Doll the armoured hatch leading down to it was
shut down and must not be opened.

On the way back to the gun-room with him, they had to pass the Surgeon’s
cabin, where Doctor Crayshaw Gordon was sitting, busy censoring letters.
Dr. Crayshaw Gordon, R.N.V.R.—in private life he had a big consulting
practice in London—hearing the noise and seeing the stretcher, thought
there had been an accident, so jumped out of his cabin.  "Hello!" he
sung out, in his funny chuckling way of talking—fixing his gold
eyeglasses on his nose, opening his mouth wide, and pulling nervously at
his little pointed tawny beard.  "Hello! what’s the matter?"

"The China Doll, sir!" they shouted, dropping him on the deck.  "Both
legs blown off!—he can’t kick you, sir, we’ve lashed him up too

"It’s very painful," the China Doll bleated, all the pink gone out of
his face.

Dr. Gordon went down on his knees and began to unlash him.

"Rather too much—too much," he said in his agitated manner, when he
found how tightly the handkerchiefs had been fastened, and cried out
with alarm when the China Doll’s head suddenly dropped back.

"He’s fainted, you silly fellows!"

They unbuckled the straps and untied the handkerchiefs in double-quick

"Put him on my bunk," Dr. Gordon told them; and, very frightened, they
laid him there.

The China Doll’s eyes opened, and he looked round not knowing what had
happened.  "Don’t play ass tricks; get out of it; leave him here!" Dr.
Gordon ordered gently; and they trooped away, dragging the stretcher
along after them—rather sobered for the moment—to get a lecture from the
Sub and Uncle Podger when they crowded into the gun-room and told what
had happened.

In half an hour the China Doll was back again—none the worse, except
that the pink had not all come back in his doll’s face—rather pleased
with himself than otherwise.

That happened on a Wednesday afternoon.  On the Thursday, orders came by
wireless for the _Achates_ to rendezvous off the Gulf of Smyrna; and as
dawn broke on Friday, the 5th March, she found herself half-way between
the islands of Mytilene and Chios.

No one knew what was going to happen except, perhaps, Captain
Macfarlane.  "And he’s probably forgotten," the irrepressible Orphan

This young gentleman was on watch with his guns, under the fore bridge,
when the rendezvous was reached, and spotted some puffs of smoke rising
above the horizon to the north’ard.  Presently he saw through his
glasses the masts of two battleships.

"What are they?" he asked excitedly of one of his petty officers, who
was training a gun in their direction and looking through the telescopic

"I know them, sir!" he cried.  "The _Swiftsure_ and _Triumph_.  Look at
their cranes—boat cranes—amidships, sir; there can’t be any mistaking
them, sir."

As the Orphan had never seen them before, he had to take his word for

"Trawlers behind ’em, sir—half a dozen or more," the petty officer
called out.

In half an hour the very graceful outlines of these two battleships
could be seen without glasses—easily distinguished from any other ship
in the Navy by their hydraulic cranes for hoisting boats in and out.

The Orphan looked at them with all the more interest, because he knew
that they had just come from the Dardanelles, and he peered at them
through his glasses to try and discover any shell-marks.  They looked as
if they had just come out of dockyard hands, and he felt disappointed.

The trawlers followed, like ducklings out for a morning paddle with
their father and mother.  Very homely they looked.

Signal hoists fluttered and were hauled down, and soon the three big
ships, with the little trawlers clustered at a respectful distance, lay
with engines stopped.

The Captains of the battleships came across to the _Achates_, and an
R.N.R. Lieutenant—in charge of the trawlers—bobbed alongside in a
trawler’s dinghy and scrambled on board.  All three went below to the
Captain’s cabin.

It was a perfect morning, the breeze a little chilly, the sea calm, and
just beginning to catch the light of the sun as it rose behind the
misty, grey mountains of Asia Minor.

The two spotless gigs and the disreputable dinghy lay alongside, and
their crews were soon busy answering questions, as the quarter-deck men
left off their scrubbing decks and bawled down to know the news, and how
things were going, and what was to be done here.  "Have you been hit?"
was the chief question.

"We got an 8-inch in the quarter-deck," the _Swiftsure’s_ boat’s crew
called up.  "Knocked the ward-room about cruel;" and the _Triumphs_,
jealous, told them: "It ain’t nothin’ compared to Kiao Chau—we got our
foretop knocked out bombarding the forts there; a 12-inch shell what did
that.  It’s not near so bad here as what it was out there."

In the hubbub of voices the Commander, splashing out of the battery in
his sea-boots, sent the men back to their holystones and squeegees.

The Captains and the R.N.R. Lieutenant went back to their ships and
trawlers, and then the three big ships commenced steaming in line ahead
up the Gulf of Smyrna, the _Achates_ leading, the _Swiftsure_ astern of
her, and the _Triumph_ astern of the _Swiftsure_. The little trawlers
were left behind.

By breakfast-time everyone in the gun-room knew that the forts of Smyrna
were to be bombarded.  The Navigator’s "doggy"—the Pimple—came down
bursting with this information.  "The Navigator says we shall be in
range just after dinner.  I heard the Captain tell him they had a big
fort there with 9- or 10-inch guns, and a mine-field in front of it—any
amount of mines."

"We shall get first smack at them, shan’t we?" the others said, beaming.
"Our Captain is the senior one, isn’t he?" and they hurried through
breakfast and clattered up on the quarter-deck to have a look at the

By this time the ships were well inside the Gulf of Smyrna, steaming
along its southern shore.  Green olive-clad hills, rising from the
sparkling, sunlit sea, sloped upwards until their sides, becoming
barren, towered ragged into the cloudless sky.  For two hours they
steamed along, until, in front of them, the mountain barrier which
circled the head of the Gulf, and sheltered the town of Smyrna itself,
loomed ahead fourteen miles away.

The three ships were quite close inshore now, and every officer and man
who had no special duties was on deck looking ashore, yarning in the
glorious warm sunshine, pointing out villages, eagerly scanning every
projecting point of land, and wondering whether the Vali of Smyrna knew
they were coming and was prepared.

They were not long in doubt.  The tall, aristocratic Major of Marines,
soaked in Eastern lore by many years spent among Arabs and Sudanese,
suddenly spotted a little pillar of grey smoke rising from the shore.
He pointed it out, saying it was a signal, and was much chaffed by the
other ward-room officers, until even they realized that he was right,
when more curled up from projecting points of land as they steamed past.
The news of their approach was being passed along to Smyrna.

"Isn’t it exciting?  I do feel ripping, inside," the Orphan told the
Lamp-post as they both watched the shore and the signals.  "Isn’t it an
adventure? my hat!"

"The Greek galleys and the Roman galleys came along just as we are
coming," the learned Lamp-post said excitedly.  "I bet the poor
galley-slaves’ backs were tired before they fetched up!"

"It must have been beastly for them not to be able to see where they
were going and not to take part in the fighting."

"They didn’t want to," the Lamp-post told him. "Let’s come for’ard."

So they went along the boat deck, and from there they soon were able to
see a little square shape rising out of the water.  It was the fort of
Yeni Kali, which commanded the approach to the Bay of Smyrna and the
town.  It was jutting out on low-lying land from the southern shore of
the bay, which here made a broad sweep along the foot of some very high

Up above, on the bridge, the Navigator was pointing out to the Pimple a
buoy with a flag on it.  "That marks the end of the mine-field.  I’ll
bet anything they’ve forgotten to remove it, or haven’t had time. You
see that low ground to the right of it—all covered with bushes and
things—they’ve got batteries somewhere there, and there are more of them
half-way up the hills."

The Pimple nervously followed the Navigator’s finger as he pointed out
the places, and expected every moment that a gun would open fire.  He
had felt very brave at breakfast when he talked about them, but he was
not quite sure whether he was enjoying himself so much as he expected.

The ships stopped engines whilst still out of range, and went to dinner
at seven bells.  An excited cheery dinner it was, and the mess deck
hummed like a wasps’ nest, the hoary old grandfathers among the men—and
there were many of them—in as high spirits as anybody.

Punctually at half-past twelve Captain Macfarlane went for’ard to the
bridge, the ships commenced to go ahead, and the bugles blared out
"Action stations"—the ordinary General Quarters bugle without the
preliminary two "G" blasts, but what a difference when heard for the
first time!

The China Doll, clambering up the fore shrouds to his dizzy perch in the
for’ard fire-control top, found his little heart thumping so much that
he had to have a "stand easy" half-way up, gripping the ratlines and
getting his breath.

Captain Macfarlane—on the bridge—saw him stop, and guessed the reason.
He had had much experience of shells coming his way—during the Boer
War—and knew how he had hated them, so felt sorry for the youngster.

"A lot depends on you, Mr. Stokes" (that was the China Doll’s name), he
called up to him encouragingly; and the China Doll was up the rigging
like a redshank, tremendously proud and happy, clambered into the top,
and began helping the seamen, already there, take the canvas cover off
the range-finder and unlash the canvas screens.

The Gunnery-Lieutenant climbed up after him, and snubbed him for asking
foolish questions.  "Were they going to fire?  Who was going to fire?
How do I know?  You’ll know soon enough.  Just hang on to those
voice-pipes and don’t talk."

So for some time the China Doll, humbled again, had nothing to do but
look round him.  Right ahead was the fort, standing square and bold at
the end of the low-lying land.  Three miles or so behind it, sloping up
the mountains, were the white houses of Smyrna; over to the northern
shore, to his left, long heaps lay dazzling in the sun—salt heaps these
were; and on the right, the high hills with their concealed batteries.
He looked behind at the two ships following astern, and down below at
the _Achates_ beneath him, and wondered, if the mast were shot away,
whether he would fall clear of her in the water or on top of the boats.
The "top" where he was, looked so small from down below, but when he was
actually in it, it seemed so big that he thought shells couldn’t
possibly miss it.

He looked down at the bridge, and saw the Pimple shadowing the tall
Navigator as he dodged from side to side of the bridge—they would both
go into the conning-tower presently; he saw Mr. Meredith’s bald head
showing out of the turret on the fo’c’sle, and Rawlinson squeezed his
head out too.  For a moment he rather wished he could change places with

But then the orders came up through the voice-pipes. The Captain wanted
the range of the fort. The seaman at the range-finder fumbled about with
the thumb-screws and sang out: "One—six—nine—five—o" (the o is sounded
as a letter, not as a figure). These were yards.  The China Doll shouted
down his voice-pipe: "One—six—nine—five—o".  Nothing more came up for a
quarter of an hour; he noticed how the "top" shook with the vibration of
the engines.  Then he had to sing down his voice-pipe:
"One—five—five—o—o"; another interval; the range came down:
"One—four—one—o—o", and the Gunnery-Lieutenant began shouting orders
through his voice-pipes about degrees of elevation and the kind of shell
to be used.

A bell tinkled close to him, and the red disk showed that the
transmitting-room was calling him.  Uncle Podger was there, he knew,
sitting in the little padded room below the armoured deck and the
water-line, with his head almost inside a huge voice-pipe shaped like
the end of a gramophone, listening for orders, and waiting to pass them
on to the various guns.  And it was Uncle Podger’s voice which came to
him: "What’s happening?  Are we getting close in?  It’s beastly hot down
here; aren’t we going to fire soon?"

Before he could answer, a long signal hoist nearly knocked off his cap,
flicking against the side of the "top" as it went up to the mast-head.
Down it came again; a corner of a yellow-and-red pendant caught in a
voice-pipe; he released it, and saw the signalman haul the flags down,
in a gaily coloured heap, on the bridge below him.  When he looked
astern again, the two ships were spreading out; the vibration of the
"top" ceased.  He knew that the engines had stopped, and presently all
three ships lay in line, with their starboard broadsides turned towards
the old fort.

The Gunnery-Lieutenant now flew about, jumping from voice-pipes to
range-finder and back again, reporting to the Captain.  "Aye, aye, sir!"
he shouted, and then called down, "Fore turret!—fore turret! try a
ranging shot—common shell—one—four—o—five—o, at the left edge of the
fort.  Fire when you are ready!"


The China Doll felt funny thrills running up and down his backbone as he
watched the fore turret move round, and the long chase of the 9.2-inch
gun cock itself in the air.  Mr. Meredith’s bald head disappeared
through the sighting hood.  He heard the snap of the breech-block and
the cheery sound of "Ready!"  Mr. Meredith’s head came out of his hood
as he gazed at the distant fort through his glasses.  He heard the word
"Fire!" and at the same moment the fighting-top swayed as if a squall
had struck the mast, a great cloud of yellowish smoke blotted out the
foc’s’le, and the _Achates_ had fired a gun for the second time in the
war—on this occasion not at sea-gulls!

In a few seconds a column of water leapt into the air behind the
fort—the shell had fallen in the bay beyond. The Gunnery-Lieutenant
roared down: "One—three—eight—five—o; fire as soon as you are ready!"

Off went the gun again; another wait, and a black-reddish splash
appeared on the face of the fort, and up shot a cloud of dirty smoke.
"Hit, sir!"

After that he was too busy to notice anything; he only remembered, later
on, that the Turks had not fired back.  More signals were hoisted; the
_Swiftsure_ and _Triumph_ commenced firing, and in a very short space of
time hits were being rapidly made on Yeni Kali fort.

Then the after turret of the _Achates_ opened fire, and with her second
round landed a lyddite shell square on one corner of the fort—brick dust
and masonry going sky-high.

The Turks did not return the fire.

When, eventually, the bugle sounded the "secure", the China Doll could
hardly believe that he had been there for two and a half hours, and at
the order to "pack up" he climbed down below, and ran to the gun-room,
where Barnes, the big marine, in his shirt-sleeves, was already laying
the table for afternoon tea.

The snotties and Uncle Podger came trooping in, jabbering like magpies;
the Pink Rat, who was in the after turret, and Rawlinson, who had the
foremost one, each claiming that his own gun had made most hits. They
both were getting angry—the Pink Rat cool and cynical, Rawlinson’s
temper getting the better of him.

They seized the China Doll.  "You saw; which gun did best?" but the
Assistant Clerk was much too wily to take sides, and wriggled away.

They pounced on the Pimple, who had been on the bridge all the time.
He, flattered to have his opinion asked, thought that Rawlinson’s gun
had made more hits.

"That rotten, worn-out pipe of a gun of yours," the Pink Rat sneered,
"couldn’t hit a haystack at a mile; yours were dropping short all the

"Yours may be the slightly better gun" (it was more modern), "but if you
had anything to do with it, it wouldn’t hit the Crystal Palace, a
hundred yards away," Rawlinson snorted, getting red in the face. "Ours
_didn’t_ go short."

"Contradiction is no argument," the Pink Rat said loftily; and
Rawlinson, who was half as big again as the senior snotty (that was why
the Pimple had backed him), would have given him a hiding, had not the
Sub come in and stopped them.

"What the dickens does it matter?  We’ve given old Yeni Kali a fair
’beano’; its own mother wouldn’t know it.  Hurry up with the tea booze;
I’ve to go on watch; out, both of you, if you can’t keep quiet!"

Barnes brought in the big teapot, slices of bread and jam and butter
disappeared marvellously as they all ate and gabbled.  "Why didn’t they
shoot back?—the mean beggars—I expect we’ve knocked out all their guns,"
Rawlinson gurgled with his mouth full.  "You didn’t, anyway," sneered
the Pink Rat.

"I wish we’d gone straight in—don’t put your sleeve in my butter—I don’t
believe those mines would have gone off—wouldn’t they?—a bally lot you
know about mines—you pig, Pimple, you’ve taken half that tin of jam—the
Captain knows all about them—that’s what those trawlers are for—shove
across the bread—they’ll sweep a passage through them—why didn’t they
let us fire more of our 6-inch—your old guns, Orphan—they ain’t as much
good as a sick headache—look at that slice of cake the Pink Rat’s
cut—put the Pink Rat down for two slices, Barnes, and bring along the

The Hun put his head in at the door.  "Twenty-five minutes past four,

"All right!  Curse it!  I’m coming," and gulping down what was left of
his tea, and grabbing his telescope and cap, the Sub went up to relieve
the watch amidst a babel of "Hun!  Hun! hold on a jiffy!  You were on
the bridge all the time; which 9.2 made the most hits?  What did the
Captain say?"

"The after gun; that’s what the Captain said," he told them, and went
out again.

"I told you so!" laughed the Pink Rat; and Rawlinson, crestfallen and
angry, shouted "that he didn’t believe it, and if it was true, that it
was all due to the China Doll passing down the wrong ranges".

The poor Assistant Clerk flushed with mortification, and squeaked out:
"I know I didn’t make any mistake—I just repeated the figures after the
Gunnery-Lieutenant—they were right at my end of the voice-pipe."

"Well, don’t cry!" Rawlinson growled.  "You’ve got such a silly
voice—you can’t help it—the figures must have come wrong at our end."

They seized the luckless China Doll, stuck him on a bench at one end of
the mess, twisted one of the long white table-cloths into a rope, and
made him hold one end, whilst the Orphan held the other to his ear and
pretended to listen.

"Now pass the range," they laughed; "try one—five—nine—o—o."

"One—five—nine—o—o," the China Doll called into the end of the
table-cloth, not quite certain that he was enjoying himself.

"One—four—seven—six—and a half," repeated the Orphan very solemnly.

"There you are!  China! try again!" and they made him give the order.
"Train seventeen degrees on the port beam."

The Orphan, thinking hard, shook his head and shouted back "Repeat!"

"Train seventeen degrees on the port beam," the China Doll repeated.

As solemn as a judge, the Orphan sang out, "Tame seven clean fleas in
the cream;" and as the poor Assistant Clerk squeaked, "Don’t be silly!"
there were yells of "He called you silly, Orphan; you aren’t going to
stand that.  Go for him, Orphan.  We’ll hold him; he shan’t hurt you."
But Uncle Podger told them all to stop fooling and smooth out the
table-cloth.  "We can’t get things washed properly on board," he said.

                              *CHAPTER V*

                       *The "Achates" is Shelled*

Next morning, the 6th March—a glorious sunny morning it was—the three
ships and the trawlers again moved in towards battered Yeni Kali.  The
trawlers went ahead to sweep through the mine-field under the protection
of the _Triumph_, whilst the _Achates_ and _Swiftsure_ followed astern.

Breakfast was at seven o’clock—a hurried meal—and everyone bolted down
his food in order to get on deck quickly and see the fun.

"Rotten bad form of ’em not to fire at us yesterday," Uncle Podger
remarked, emptying half the sugar basin on his porridge.  "In all the
wars I’ve been in, we’ve fired first, then the enemy fired back; we
spotted their guns and knocked them out."

"And landed for a picnic afterwards," suggested his neighbour, skilfully
bagging the sugar basin.

"Generally," replied the Clerk.

"In the last war I was in," began the China Doll, "we generally asked
the enemy to lunch.  The Captain said that made them so happy."

"If we’re to have breakfast at this silly time," Bubbles chuckled, "I
call it a rotten war."

They heard shouts on deck.  The half-deck sweeper put his head in to
tell them that the Turks were firing, and they all stampeded on deck.

Right ahead, the little trawlers could be seen, in pairs, close in to
the old fort and the low-lying land to the right of it.  Right on top of
the mine-field they were, and spurts of water were splashing up, every
other second, among them.  Flashes twinkled out from the scrub on the
low-lying ground, three, four, five at a time, and the splashes of their
shells sprang up, one after the other, between the trawlers.

Everyone held his breath and expected to see a trawler hit, directly.

There was a shout of "The _Triumph’s_ started!"  A yellowish cloud shot
out from her, then another; they shot out all along her broadside, and,
right in among the scrub, where the Turkish guns had been firing, burst
her 7.5 lyddite shells.

Then splashes began falling close to the _Triumph_
herself—short—short—far over her—right under her stern.  "Hit under the
fore bridge!" someone shouted. The "Action" bugle blared out in the
_Achates_; officers and men rushed to their stations; and the last thing
Uncle Podger and the Lamp-post saw was the trawlers turning round and
scuttling back, followed by columns of water leaping up close to them.

Uncle Podger, sedately excited, and the long, thin Lamp-post made their
way along the mess deck, pushing through the crowds of men scurrying to
and fro; guns’ crews squeezing into the casemates and closing the
armoured doors behind them; the stoker fire-parties bustling along with
their hoses, and the lamp trimmers coming round and lighting the candle
lanterns in case the electric light failed.

To get to the "transmitting-room", which was their station, they had to
go down the ammunition hoist of "B2" casemate—the for’ard one on the
port side of the main deck,—and so many men of the ammunition supply
parties had to go down it that there was a squash of men squeezing
through the casemate door.

"Early doors, sixpence extra," Uncle Podger grinned, as they waited
whilst man after man climbed down the rope-ladder in the hoist.  This
hoist was simply a steel tube some fifteen feet long, big enough for a
broad-shouldered man to crawl through, and the rope ladder dangled down
inside it.  When the bottom rung of the ladder was reached, there was a
jump down of some five feet or so into the "fore cross passage"—a broad
space, from side to side across the ship, under the dome of the armoured
deck.  The magazines were below this fore cross passage, and men
standing in them handed up the six-inch cordite charges through open

Into this space ran the ammunition passages, running aft along each side
under the slope of the armoured deck, with the boiler-room bulkheads on
the inner sides, and the bulkheads of the lower wing bunkers on the
outer.  When, as was now the case, the shells in their red canvas bags
hung in rows along both these bulkheads, there was precious little room
for two people to pass side by side.

The ammunition hoists from all the 6-inch guns, farther aft, opened into
these passages, and under each hoist an electric motor and winding drum
was placed to run the charges and shells up to the casemate which it
"fed".  All these spaces and passages were very dimly lighted by
electric lights and candle lanterns.

As Uncle Podger and the Lamp-post crawled down the tube and dropped into
the "fore cross passage", they were hustled by men dashing out of the
ammunition passages, seizing charges and shells from the men standing in
the magazine hatches, and dashing back again to their own hoists.  These
were the "powder-monkeys" of the old days, most of them, now, big
bearded men; one, the biggest down there, a man nearly fifty years of
age, had been earning five pounds a week, as a diver, before the
outbreak of war brought him back to the Navy.  And no one was more
cheery than he, as he dashed backwards and forwards from his hoist to
the magazine, laughing and joking, and wiping the sweat off his face.
It was very warm down there, and the smell of sweating men soon made the
air heavy.

A bearded ship’s corporal came down with the key of the
transmitting-room, opened the thick padded wooden door in the bulkhead,
and went in.  The Fleet-Paymaster and the tall, depressed Fleet-Surgeon
followed him down the tube.  They scuttled out of the way of the
trampling men.

"A nice little place for you to work in, P.M.O.," chuckled the Pay as
they wormed themselves into a corner.

"Rats in a trap!" grunted the P.M.O., and drew in his feet and cursed as
a seaman trod on them.

The chief sick-berth steward and his assistants had already come down,
but vainly looked for a place to stow their surgical dressings.  They
had to hang them from hooks in the bulkheads.

Uncle Podger and the Lamp-post stood waiting for the Chaplain, the Rev.
Horace Gibbons; and when they saw his shoes and scarlet socks dangling
from the lower end of the ammunition hoist from "B2" casemate in a
helpless, pathetic way, they dashed to his assistance; each seized a
foot and guided it to safety on top of a convenient motor-hoist, and as
the Padre let go the ladder and jumped feebly, they softened his fall.
This was always their first job, for he hated that rope-ladder and that
hoist with a deadly hatred, and, most of all, hated falling those last
few feet, suddenly dropping, as it were, from heaven, and appearing in
an undignified manner among all the men there.

The Lamp-post and Uncle Podger dusted down the little pasty-faced Padre
and put his hat on straight.

"Thank you so much!  I’m afraid I’ve broken my pipe in that hoist."

"Hallo, Angel Gabriel!" grinned the Pay, as the three of them passed
into the transmitting-room. "Paying a call in the infernal region?"

As they shut the felted door they shut out all the noise.

This transmitting-room was a tiny little place, perhaps fifteen feet
long and five wide, with four camp-stools, and rows of telephones and
brass indicator boxes with their little red and white figures showing
through the slits in them.  Voice-pipes, too, everywhere, and in one
corner, over a camp-stool—Uncle Podger’s camp-stool—projected an
enormous brass voice-pipe with a gramophone-shaped end.

Every instrument had its label above it: Conning-tower—After
Turret—Starboard 6-inch—Y group—X group—scores of them; and in front of
the Padre’s camp-stool was a little table, like a school table, with
paper lying on it and a pencil chained to it.

"Nothing happened yet, sir," the ship’s corporal sang out, as they
closed the door and seated themselves on their camp-stools with their
backs against the after bulkhead and the door.

Uncle Podger, sitting with his head in his gramophone trumpet, could
hear people talking in the conning-tower.  "Signal to the _Swiftsure_ to
stop engines"—that was Captain Macfarlane’s clear, incisive voice; then
the Navigator’s infectious laugh, "The trawlers are safe, sir; out of
range, sir.  They’ve had the fright of their lives, sir."—"Port it is,
sir," came the gruff voice of the quartermaster at the wheel. "Steady it
is, sir."

He rang up the fore-control top, where the China Doll was perched, and a
bell at his side tinkled. "What’s going on, China Doll?" he called into
his loud-speaking navyphone, giving the mouthpiece a shake.

"Stop that confounded ringing!" it bleated out, in the peculiar nasal
tone these navyphones always have. That was the Gunnery-Lieutenant’s
irritated voice, so Uncle Podger kept silent.

Then he heard, loud and clear through the trumpet mouth:
"Transmitting-room!  Transmitting-room! Tell the Major and Mr.
Meiklejohn" (one of the Lieutenants) "that the port 6-inch will fire

"Aye, aye, sir!  Port guns will fire first."

He passed on the message to the Lamp-post, and the Lamp-post, who was in
charge of the port broadside gun instruments, commenced telephoning to
the Major, aft, and Mr. Meiklejohn, up in B1 casemate, above them.

Then more orders came down, rapidly, one after the other; ranges, worked
from the foretop, ticked themselves off in the slits of the little brass
boxes, were verified, and passed on to the port guns and the turrets.

"Commence with common shell," sounded the trumpet mouth.  Uncle Podger
repeated it.

"It’s showing all right on my dial," the Lamp-post said, a little
bothered with so many telephones asking him questions.

"All right, Lampy.  Don’t lose your wool.  Pass it on to the guns."

"What range is showing?" called the trumpet.

"One—two—nine—five—o."  "One—two—nine—five—o." "One—two—nine—five—o,"
the Lamp-post, the Padre, and the ship’s corporal told Uncle Podger.

"One—two—nine—five—o," he spoke into his navyphone.

"What range are the guns showing?" asked the trumpet.  It was the
Gunnery-Lieutenant, anxious to know, at the last moment, whether all the
instruments were recording properly.

This meant ringing up each gun, and took time. Presently all the replies
were received.

"Y3 shows One—two—nine—o—o, sir," Uncle Podger telephoned.  "The others
are correct."

"Confound Y3!" he heard the Gunnery-Lieutenant say angrily.

Then the figures in the slits in the brass boxes began to move—the
"five" gave way to "o", the "nine" disappeared and "eight" took its
place; the range was decreasing.  The little labels bearing the types of
shell to be used—armour-piercing, common, lyddite—revolved, and came to
a standstill with "common" showing.

All these changes down in the transmitting-room repeated themselves in
similar instruments at the different guns, but to make doubly sure that
they were correctly known there, the order "Common shell" was also
passed by telephone.  "Tell B1 to stand by to fire," bawled the big
trumpet, and the Lamp-post calmly passed on the order.

"Fire!" yelled the trumpet mouth.  The Lamp-post pressed the key which
rang the fire-gong in B1 casemate.  There was a dull thud from above,
and B1 had fired.

Then orders came down one after the other; the whole battery began
firing.  The two turrets started, the fore-turret gun making the
transmitting-room rattle, whilst the after 9.2 only made it wriggle.

The Padre was busy jotting down times and ranges, the ship’s corporal
was helping the Lamp-post with his instruments, and Uncle Podger was
taking in and passing orders to them all.  They had no time to think of
what was going on elsewhere.

Outside, in the "fore cross passage", the noise of the for’ard guns, B1
and B2, coming straight down their hoists was very loud.  The breeze,
too, blew the cordite smoke down the hoists when the breeches of the
guns were opened to reload, and made the air and stench more
disagreeable than ever.  The ammunition supply parties were busy; empty
red shell-bags were brought back and flung into the magazines; filled
ones were handed up, and the men ran away with them.

The Fleet-Surgeon and the Fleet-Paymaster flattened themselves out of
the way.

"Cheer up, P.M.O.!  We’ll all be dead soon," the Pay chuckled.

"Indeed and we shall," snarled the P.M.O. "Listen to those beastly
engines—they’ve been going ahead for the last hour—we’ll be hitting the
mines in a minute."

"Well, we shan’t know much about that, old chap; we’re right on top of
the magazines.  You’d be an angel before you could say ’knife’."

"Rats in a trap!  Dry up!" growled the P.M.O. "Rats in a trap!  That’s
what we are."

"A-climbing up de golden stairs," hummed the Pay, pointing to the end of
the rope-ladder dangling from the hoist above them.  "Hullo!  That’s
something new," the Paymaster broke in cheerfully, as there was a noise
just behind them—on the outer side of the coal bunker—a different noise
to any they had heard before.

"Do you hear the coal jumping about?"

"That’s summat ’it the harmour," men shouted gleefully.

"Two more!" Called out a gunner’s mate as two more crashes came, a
little farther aft, and the coal jumped and rattled behind the bulkhead.

A cloud of black smoke poured down one of the hoists.  "Black powder,"
said the men, sniffing, as it drifted along the passage and made them
cough.  "A shell’s burst somewhere."

A man from B3 slid down the rope of his hoist, and sang out that one had
just burst against the side of the gun port.  "No one hurt," he added,
with a little tinge of regret.

A few seconds later a very cheery voice bawled down one of the starboard
hoists to say that shells had come into the mess deck and burst there.

The men were genuinely pleased that their old ship had at last been hit.

"Anyone killed?" they shouted up.

"Don’t know yet.  The whole blooming place is on fire; port side, half a
dozen knocked out.  Old Cooky got one in his leg.  No one badly hurt."

Rumours flew up and down these hoists.  No one knew what had actually
happened.  A lot more smoke came down the hoists.  The Fleet-Surgeon
fidgeted lest he ought to go up, but he had to wait for orders, and stay
there until he was sent for.

"They’re giving it ’em back, a fair treat," the men sang out, as the
guns up above fired very rapidly and the whole ship shook.

The engines had stopped their rumbling during this time, but now they
started again.  No more crashes came against the armoured side, the guns
ceased firing, and presently a message came down: "The Captain wants the

"Now for it," growled the Fleet-Surgeon, and swung himself awkwardly up
the dangling ladder through the hoist up into the casemate, and so out
to the wrecked mess deck.

Two shells—5.9-inch shells—had come in through the ship’s side and made
a terrible mess of things. The first one had burst in the stokers’ mess
deck, smashing mess tables and stools and setting fire to them.  Flying
fragments had wounded the chief cook, who, against all orders, was in
the galley, and five men belonging to the "fire" and "repair" parties.
The rest had dashed along with their hoses, and, whilst they were
putting out this fire, the second shell had burst in the next mess aft
on the other side of a bulkhead, and without fuss or worry they had
dragged their hoses along and put this out too.

Both messes were now ankle-deep in black water, the blackened and
smashed wooden tables and benches lying higgledy-piggledy all over the
deck; pipes and stanchions were torn and twisted; the iron cap and
ditty-box racks hung down fantastically from the blackened beams and
plates overhead, and the whole place was littered with the men’s
crockery smashed into the tiniest pieces.

"I’ll give you an hour and a half for the wounded, and then we’re going
in again," the Fleet-Surgeon was told, when he found the Captain and
Commander wading about among the wreckage.

Off went the Fleet-Surgeon to find his wounded; they had already been
dragged into cosy corners and roughly bandaged.

Dr. Gordon came along, from his station aft, to help him.

By this time all the ships had withdrawn out of range.  The "Secure" and
the "Disperse" were sounded, and everyone hurriedly dashed down to see
the damage and hunt for bits of shell.

"And there’s another on the boat deck," the Pimple, absolutely off his
head with excitement, screamed to the Lamp-post and Uncle Podger as they
came out of B2 casemate, up the hoist of which they had just climbed.

He dragged them up to see the damage done, and even Uncle Podger went
into raptures when he saw the beautiful hole in the wooden deck, and the
fifty or more small holes which fragments of shell had made in the
engine-room uptakes and in one of the funnels.

"It doesn’t matter if the _Bacchante_ does find out about the sea-gulls,
now," he said, and gloated at the lovely sight.

The Orphan came up, anxious lest any of the flying pieces had hit his
beloved picket boat; Bubbles came along, chuckling and laughing, and
they all craned their necks over the side to see the holes where two
shells had come in, and where those that had struck the armour had
knocked off the wood sheathing and the paint.

"Come along or we’ll miss lunch," Bubbles gurgled; and they romped aft,
passing old Fletcher, the stoker, coming up, grimy and unwashed, from
his watch below.

"I’ve just brought ’Kaiser Bill’ up for an airing, sir," he said, as the
Orphan stopped to speak to him. "I took him down out of mischief," and
he carefully placed the idiotic tortoise down on the iron plates, and
tried to tempt him with a piece of cabbage leaf to put out his ugly

Lunch in the gun-room was a very rowdy meal.  If the Sub hadn’t been
pretty severe, precious little more crockery would have been left there
than in those two stokers’ mess decks.

"Just fancy!  Six times hit—no, eight times—I counted them—all right,
eight times—so much the better—and six wounded.  Fancy old Cooky being
knocked out—jolly hard luck; he oughtn’t to have been there.  You should
have been in B3 when the shell hit the gun port, it did make a noise.
They did make a funny noise all round (this from the China Doll).  I had
my cap blown off—one went between my turret and the shelter deck (this
from Rawlinson).

"We’re going back again," the Pimple, who had had to go back to the
bridge and now came down, shouted.  "I’ve just heard the Skipper tell
the Navigator.  Give me some soup, Barnes, quick—I say, you chaps, leave
me a bit of pudding.  We did get it hot.  You should have been on the

"Bet you were safe and sound in the conning-tower," the others cried.

"I was only there part of the time.  They kicked me out—it was too
crowded.  When that shell burst on the boat deck, bits came right over
me.  A bit hit a signal locker and dropped quite close to me.  I’ve got
it here," and the Pimple produced a bit of scrap iron out of his pocket
and held it up.

"That isn’t a bit of shell," they laughed, as they handed it round;
"it’s a bit of a deck plate."

"Well, it was jolly hot when I picked it up," said the Pimple, rather
distressed.  "I say, Barnes, do hurry up with some grub."

"Oh, you chaps, did you hear?" and the Pimple brightened again.  "That
shell which hit the _Triumph_ killed a snotty."

At first they thought, and rather hoped, he might be someone they knew;
but the Pimple, who got all his news from the talkative Navigator, told
them he was an R.N.R. midshipman, so they were a little disappointed,
because they could not possibly have known him.

That afternoon the ships again steamed in almost to the edge of the
mine-field, and all of them opened a very heavy fire on the Turkish
guns; but these were so widely dispersed, and so cleverly hidden in the
scrub of the low-lying ground, that hitting them was a matter of pure

Two trawlers also made another plucky attempt to sweep through the
mine-field, but had to retire when more guns fired at them—guns which it
was impossible to locate from the ship.

It was evidently hopeless to clear the mine-field during daylight, so
ships and trawlers retired again.

A small steamer—the _Aennie Rickmers_—(she had been captured from the
Germans) met them outside. She carried some scouting hydroplanes, and as
she turned out suitable to accommodate the wounded, these were sent
across to her.

On the Sunday and Monday the ships bombarded Yeni Kali and also a
battery on a ridge, without doing much damage.  The hydroplanes went up
on both these days, and circled over the low ground where the batteries
lay hidden, and also over the bay inside. No one in the _Achates_ had as
yet seen air-craft reconnoitring an enemy position, so everybody came up
to have a look when the first one left the water with its pilot and
observer and commenced to climb higher and higher in huge spirals.

When it had risen sufficiently high, it flew away towards Yeni Kali with
its hydroplane floats beneath it, looking, for all the world, like a big
bluebottle which had stuck its feet in something sticky and could not
fly well for the weight of it.

As they eagerly watched it, suddenly a puff-ball of white smoke showed
against the blue sky—below it—then another nearer, two more a long way
behind; field-guns were firing shrapnel at it.

Not a soul on board had seen anything like this; everyone simply stood
and held his breath, and watched the hydroplane and the white puff-balls
following it.

"Gosh!  I’d like to be those chaps, young Orphan," the Sub roared.  "My
jumping Jimmy!  There’s excitement for you!  Ten minutes of it worth a
life-time.  Eh, you jam-stuffing sybarite?"

"Very pretty to watch, but give me dry land," Uncle Podger declared

The little Padre, sucking a big pipe, his face twitching with
excitement, muttered "bother"—a fearful swear-word for him—and spat out
the end of his mouthpiece.  He had bitten it off in his agitation.

The China Doll stood with his pink-and-white face gazing upwards, his
mouth wide open, and his big eyes opening and shutting.

"My jumping Jimmy!  Life!  Life!  We’re seeing life, my jumping Doll,"
and the Sub lifted the Assistant Clerk off the deck and dropped him

"Do you want to go back to the North Sea patrol—my young Blot on the

"No, sir;" and the China Doll curtseyed disrespectfully, and bolted
behind the stolid figure of Uncle Podger.

"By the King’s Regulations and Gun-room instructions, disrespect to
superior officers is punishable by death or such other punishment as is
hereinafter—" began the Clerk, but was interrupted by a shout of "Look!
She’s coming down now!"

The hydroplane was coming back, the puff-balls had ceased, and with long
spiral swoops she slid down on the water and spun along the surface to
the _Aennie Rickmers_.

"Old Yellow Beard wants you, sir," a young A.B.—it was Plunky
Bill—interrupted, saluting the Sub.

"What!  Who?" roared the Sub, glaring at him.

"Beg pardon, sir; I forgot myself, sir.  I means the Captain, sir.
Wants you in his cabin, he does."

The Sub, with a glare which froze poor Plunky Bill, stalked aft.

Some half-hour later, the half-deck sentry put his head into the
gun-room: "The Sub-lootenant wants Mr. Orphan—in his cabin."

That young gentleman had wagered that he could drink a bottle of soda
water more quickly than Bubbles could, and happened to be employed in
the process of deciding this.  The first trial had resulted in a dead
heat, but the second had ended rather disastrously for both; and though
the others patted him on the back with any heavy, unsuitable article
they could find, he had not quite recovered himself when he burst into
the Sub’s cabin.

The Sub was excited again.  When he was excited his eyes burnt like
coals and his mouth was a slit, tightly shut—shut like a rat-trap.

"Orphan! my jumping Orphan!  we’ve got it—you and I and your rotten old
picket-boat.  Guess what we’ve got to do, my ’JJ.’!  It’s simply too

He lighted his pipe.  The cabin was already so full of smoke that the
Orphan was coughing.

"What is it?" he gasped—the soda water inside him still busy.

"Have a cigarette?" the Sub said, shoving a box towards him.

"I’m not eighteen yet!" the Orphan said, thinking that the Sub perhaps
had forgotten and might beat him afterwards.

"You’ll have to be twenty-eight to-night, my jumping Son—thirty-eight;
you’ve got the chance of a lifetime.  Squat down on the wash-stand."

"Jumping Moses!—you and I have to go in to-night and stick a light on a
mark-buoy—a Turkish mark-buoy they’ve fixed in the wrong place, close
inshore it is, under the old fort.  What do you think of that?"

"What mark-buoy?" asked the Orphan.  "How ripping!"

The Sub drew a few rough outlines on a piece of paper.  "There’s the
fort, and that’s the line of the low bit of land sweeping away to the
right.  It sticks out a bit farther along, and just off the ’stick out’
place the mark-buoy should mark a shoal, but the Turks have shifted it
farther in—just about there"—and he marked a cross on the paper—"to
bother us. And we’ve got to find it to-night, and stick a red light on
it.  How’s that for ’good’?"

"They’ll see us, won’t they?" the Orphan said, catching his breath
again, for he knew that at least three search-lights swept the approach
and the minefield—a big one on Yeni Kali itself, "Glaring Gertrude", and
two this side of the mine-field, from somewhere down by the water’s
edge—"Peeping Tom" and "Squinting Susan"; two much less powerful lights
these were.

"I bet they’ll see us.  If they don’t before, they will after we’ve
fixed up that red light.  The trawlers are going to sweep through behind
us, and that light’s to guide ’em," and the Sub smote the table with his
great clenched fist.  "What price that for a good night’s work?  Better
than boarding ships in the North Sea, eh?"

"Right in under the fort we’ll have to go?" asked the Orphan, his breath
still rather short; "and right in under all those guns along the beach?"

"Right in, my jumping Orphan!  Rifle range! pistol range! biscuit range!
The _Swiftsure’s_ coming in to have a bang at "Peeping Tom" and his pal.
My jumping O.! what a job!"

"When d’we shove off?" asked the Orphan, his eyes blazing.

"Seven o’clock—seven sharp.  You bring the grub—shark sandwiches—and a
couple bottles of beer. You’re not rattled, my young Orphan?" he said,
springing up and clutching the midshipman’s shoulders.

As a matter of fact the Orphan was rather taken aback, and though he did
his best to look frightfully happy, it was not an absolute success.

The Sub altered his voice.  "Look here.  Those confounded trawler
fellows have done their job two days running, under heavy shell-fire,
whilst we’ve been behind armour.  It’s time we showed them the
way—understand?  It’s our turn to-night, yours and mine."

"I’m all right," the Orphan said.  "It was rather a startler, that’s
all.  I’d been getting up a sing-song, and we were going to court
martial the China Doll."

"Warn your boat’s crew," the Sub continued, perfectly satisfied and
absolutely happy.  "Tell ’em to take some grub."

"How about old Fletcher?" the Orphan asked. "He’s rather old for the

"You know him best.  Sound him.  Off you go!"

So Fletcher was sent for and told all that was going to happen.

"If you’d rather a younger man——" the Orphan began, not knowing how to
best say what he meant.

"Me, sir!  Don’t leave me behind.  I’m as strong as a horse," the old
stoker broke in.

"Right oh!  The boat will be ’turned out’ about six-thirty.  Don’t
forget to bring some grub."

"I won’t, sir, thank you," and Fletcher went for’ard.

"I don’t think we’ll court-martial the China Doll after all," the Orphan
said when he went back to the gun-room.

"Oh!  Rather!  What rot!  Of course we will! Mustn’t we, China Doll?"
the others cried.

"Well, I’m not going to be there, anyway.  You’ll have to find someone
else for prisoner’s friend."

"What’s up?" they asked.  "Got the blight?"

"Oh, I’ve got a bit of a job on this evening, you chaps!"  And the
Orphan did his best to look unconcerned, but they saw that he was
bubbling over with excitement, and dragged the news out of him.

"He might be captured, if they don’t kill the poor little chap first,"
Bubbles gurgled.  "Fancy the Orphan being a prisoner," the others
shouted.  "Poor old Turks—hard luck on them—you’ll have to wear a
fez—and be able to smoke all day—a nubbly-bubbly—won’t that be nice?—and
have a dozen wives—and get sixpence a day to keep them" (this was from
Uncle Podger).

And when it was time for him to prepare the picket-boat, they called
after him: "If you don’t come back we’ll finish your ginger nuts—oh, you
pig, you’re taking them with you—that’s not playing the game—we’ll write
such a nice letter home—how we all loved you—with all our names to
it—p’raps your daddy will send us a present—wouldn’t a barrel of beer be
nice—good-bye, Orphan, we’ll never forget you—if he does send us one—not
till it’s finished."

Then they settled down to revise the list of officials at the China
Doll’s coming court martial.  Bubbles would have to do prisoner’s
friend, although he was not much good at it, because when he did think
of something funny to say, he couldn’t say it for laughing at what
somebody else had just said.

                              *CHAPTER VI*

                         *A Night’s Adventure*

The Orphan went up on the "booms" and found Jarvis, the bearded
coxswain, and Plunky Bill busy touching up with black paint any bits of
brasswork on the picket-boat which might show in the searchlights. They
had already done this once, and were making certain, by the aid of a
lantern, that no shiny place had been missed.

As he climbed into her he heard Plunky Bill say saucily: "’Ow about the
missus and the six kids? Ain’t you going to back out of this ’ere lark
in the dark?"

"’Ere, get on with yer black paint," growled Jarvis. "’Ow about yer
sweet’earts—five of ’em as I knows on.  You ain’t going to get yerself
killed, are you, and break five bleeding ’earts?  Eh, young

They were so cheery that the Orphan lost that funny feeling in his
inside that had been so uncomfortable.  He climbed on board and went
for’ard to have a yarn with old Fletcher, who was busy in the stokehold
getting up steam.

"No sparks out of the funnels to-night," he said, stooping down.

"I’ll take good care of that, sir," Fletcher answered.

It was a very dark night, with a gentle breeze blowing in towards
Smyrna, and as the Orphan straightened himself he saw the glare of the
search-lights over the mine-field, and that unpleasant sensation in his
stomach would come back.  He tried to pretend it was only indigestion,
but knew it wasn’t.

"Peeping Tom", the nearest, was flickering here, there, and everywhere,
but it was a very poor light, and he didn’t mind that one; "Squinting
Susan" shone, twice as brightly as her brother, right across where the
picket-boat must pass; occasionally she swept round to help him, as if
she knew he wasn’t of much use.

Then right behind these two was that beastly "Glaring Gertrude"—a
splendid light.  She was lighting up the salt-heaps on the opposite
shore most of the time; but when she did turn to have a look out
seawards, her beam lighted up the _Achates_, although the ship was at
least five miles away, making the men’s faces quite plain to see, and
outlining the masts and funnels and rigging in a most unpleasant manner.

A signalman came along with the lantern and some "cod" line.  "That will
be strong enough, sir, to lash it to the buoy," and he held out the cod
line in the dark for the Orphan to feel.

Everything being ready, the picket-boat was lifted out of her crutches,
dangled over the side of the ship, and lowered into the water.  At seven
o’clock she was alongside the darkened ship, and the Sub, in
monkey-jacket, blue trousers, and sea boots, climbed down and gave the
order to "shove off".

"What ho! my Explorer of Mine-fields—my Lighter of Beacons—this beats
the band!" the Sub shouted, as the picket-boat left the shadow of the
ship’s side, cleared her bow, and headed for the glare of the
search-lights and the mine-field.

Close to the _Achates_ lay two trawlers and the _Swiftsure’s_
picket-boat—the Orphan could just make out their obscure shadows.

"They’re going in to sweep," the Sub told him. "The _Swiftsure’s_
picket-boat is going to show them the way.  My jumping Jimmy!" he
roared, unable to suppress his boisterous excitement.  "Isn’t this a
grand show?"

The steamboat pushed her way along, and soon the dark mass of the
_Triumph_ loomed up against the blackness of the high hills behind her.

On she went towards where they knew the _Swiftsure_ herself was lying,
and as the Orphan strained his eyes to pierce the darkness in towards
the land to find her, a match was struck in the bows, and a splutter of
tobacco sparks trailed down over the side.  Jarvis shouted angrily: "Put
out that pipe!"

"No smoking, you fools!" barked the Sub to the men crouching in the
bows; and Jarvis growled: "It’s that ’ere Plunky Bill, ’e’s a fair
terror.  ’E’s been an’ gone an’ blacked ’Kaiser Bill’," he added after a
pause.  "’E said ’e was that shiny ’e’d give the show away.  ’E’s a
comic, that Plunky Bill."

"You haven’t brought the tortoise?" the Orphan asked incredulously.

"Grandpa ’as; ’e’s got’im down in the stoke’old, the old ’umbug; ’e’s
fair wild with Plunky Bill; ’arf an ’our it took ’im to get the paint
off ’im with a drop of turps and a sweat-rag."

"Hullo!  There’s the _Swiftsure_, sir," and the Orphan saw her masts and
funnels and cranes ahead of him lighted up for a moment by a quick flash
from "Peeping Tom".  Almost immediately a flame shot out from her side—a
roar—and a shell burst with another splash of flame close to the shore
end of that search-light.

"Peeping Tom" disappeared at once.

Then "Squinting Susan" twisted round to see what had fired at her little
brother; waggle waggle went her beam trying to find the battleship.

Bang!  Flash!  Another gun—another shell blazed up somewhere near her,
and she too disappeared. "They’ve doused their glim for ’em," Jarvis

"My jumping Jimmy! that’s good work," the Sub muttered joyously.

But in a second or two out shot "Peeping Tom" and hunted about
nervously, to switch off again as another shell burst somewhere near

As he switched off, "Sister Susan" switched on again, only to vanish as
still another shell came along her way.

"What a jest, my Galloping Orphan!  We’ll get past them both and not be

And so they did.  "Peeping Tom’s" beam flashed on them once, and they
held their breath, but it swept astern and left them in darkness, and
before it worked back the _Swiftsure’s_ gun had blazed out, and it was
switched off even before the shell burst.

"Squinting Susan" was much too anxious to help her brother to find the
_Swiftsure_, and didn’t bother her head about anything else; her crew,
too, had nerves—very badly.

"We’re past them both," the Sub said, chuckling quietly, shaking his
huge fist at them, and guffawing loudly as he watched first one and then
the other switching on and then switching off—out would shoot one light
from shore—bang would go a gun—off switched the light—darkness—the other
light would try—and disappear again.  "Peeping Tom’s" crew were even
more flustered than "Squinting Susan’s"; they hardly waited to be fired
on before switching off.

It was the funniest sight in the world.

"Bet Bubbles is nearly choking himself," the Sub said, "and Uncle Podger
making funny remarks."

"They’re ’court-martialling’ the China Doll in the gun-room," the Orphan
told him.

"Oh, of course; I forgot that."

The picket-boat was now steaming in darkness, made more intense by the
glare, two miles ahead of her, of "Glaring Gertrude’s" huge beam.  This
light, by a lucky chance that night, never seemed to leave the white
salt-heaps on the opposite shore.

"We’re right on top of the mines now, sonny. Feeling gay?"

"Ra—ther!" answered the Orphan, the uncomfortable feeling in his stomach
entirely forgotten.

"Worth a guinea a minute!  My jumping Jimmy, it is!" the Sub kept saying
to himself.  "Starboard a little!  That’s the ticket.  Keep her as you
go. We’re nearly past the mines now."

Presently the Orphan could see a dark line to starboard—perhaps a
thousand yards away—and knew that this was the low-lying ground which
swept along to the right of Yeni Kali fort, the land from which the guns
had fired on the trawlers last Saturday.

If only "Glaring Gertrude" would stay where she was and amuse herself
counting the salt-heaps all would be well.  Once or twice she swept away
from them, and the Orphan caught his breath lest she would swing right
round on the picket-boat; but every time, just at the critical moment,
back she would go to see if the salt-heaps were still there.

The picket-boat throbbed along; hardly any smoke was coming out of her
funnel, and only very seldom a spark; old Fletcher might be a humbug, as
Jarvis said, but he _could_ stoke.

Then the Sub pointed out, right ahead, the square dark shape of Yeni
Kali itself, its upper edge—broken and jagged where shells had crumbled
it—silhouetted against "Glaring Gertrude’s" beam.

"They’re working it from somewhere in the fort itself," he said,
speaking very quietly, "and the fort gives us a shadow.  Splendid!"

"We’ve come too far; port your helm and ease her a bit, Orphan.  Get
that lantern ready—stand by to light it," he told the signalman.

The picket-boat turned in towards the darkness of the land, and moved
through the black water with just a little rippling gurgle under her
bows, whilst the crew, for’ard, strained their eyes to find the
mark-buoy—the mark-buoy which the Turks had shifted.

"We ought to see it—it’s white," muttered the Sub impatiently, but their
eyes were rather blinded by looking at "Glaring Gertrude", and they
could not pick it up.

The Sub kept his eyes shut for a minute, and then looked again.

No result.

The line of shore was very close now, and it was inconceivable that the
Turkish look-outs at their guns, all along it, could not see the
picket-boat.  Round and round, first this way and then that, she
steamed, hunting everywhere for that mark-buoy—without success.

To seaward the _Swiftsure_, "Peeping Tom" and his sister were still
keeping up their noisy game of "Peep Bo", I spot you!—Bang!  No, you

But for that, and the gurgling under the bows, and the soft grating of
the engines, there wasn’t a sound. Not a sound came from the shore close
to them, not even a dog barked.

The Sub grew restless.  He knew that the two trawlers and the
_Swiftsure’s_ picket-boat must already be sweeping through the
mine-field and expecting to see the red light to guide them.

He swore at the Turks, cursed himself, and above all he cursed "Glaring
Gertrude" and the fort for making the darkness so pitch black round the

He steered out towards the opposite shore until he almost ran into the
big search-light’s beam, swung her round, and made another "cast", but
the blackness away from the glare and in the shadow of the fort was
absolutely inky.

No buoy could he find.

He looked at the luminous face of his wrist watch. "It’s getting on for
eleven," he said bitterly.  "The trawlers must have nearly finished."

"There’s a light, sir!  Look, sir!  To seaward!" a man called excitedly.

"Keep quiet, you fool," growled Jarvis, "or you’ll wake them Turks."

They all looked back towards the mine-field, and saw a small white
light—like a small star twinkling low down on the water—between them and
the _Swiftsure_.

"The trawlers have finished—that’s the signal," the Sub swore angrily,
"and we’ve not helped them.  Go back to the ship, Orphan.  Curse it

And then at last the Turks woke up.  Flash!  Bang! Flash!  Bang!  Guns
began firing one after the other, and the Orphan ducked as he heard
shells whistling through the darkness.

He could have kicked himself for ducking, because the shells were not
really coming his way, but bursting hundreds of yards beyond the little
white light. It was that the Turks had seen, not the picket-boat. She
had, however, to pass it on her way back.

"Which side shall I pass the light?" he asked nervously.

"Keep inside; they won’t see us, and they won’t hit us if they do—I
almost wish they would," the Sub growled miserably.  "Shove her along!"

As the picket-boat increased speed and approached the light the noise of
shells came much nearer.  One especially seemed to be very close, and
burst in the water not a hundred yards ahead.

"Confound you!  Keep your head still; you aren’t a jumping marionette,"
swore the Sub as the Orphan ducked again.

"Sorry!" he stuttered.  "I try, but I can’t help it."

"Shove her along!  Open her out!  Let her rip!" roared the Sub.  He was
more happy now that there was some danger.

The picket-boat dashed through the water.  She came abreast the white
light, swinging from a pole on a buoy quite unconcernedly.

"That marks the end of the channel they’ve swept," the Sub bellowed; but
the Sub was much too interested in the shells which were humming and
shrieking, right over the boat now, some of them bursting as they struck
the sea, others falling in with a "flomp". Another moment and the white
light was left behind, wriggling excitedly as the wash of the steamboat
made the buoy dance.  Another hundred yards and they were out of the
line of fire.

There was a sudden shout from the bows: "Something ahead, sir!" and out
of the darkness came cries and shouts for help.  They steered towards
them, stopping engines, and found two men in an almost sinking dinghy—a
trawler’s dinghy—one of them trying to paddle with bits of bottom board.

They hauled them in and left the boat behind.

The men were numbed and half dazed.  One, a signalman, had a cut on his
head and was bleeding freely.

"285’s blown up, sir; we’re the only ones left."

Neither knew anything, except that there had been a great heave under
their trawler and they’d found themselves in the water, swum about,
found the dinghy, and got into her.  One man had started feebly baling
her out with his hands, whilst the other had ripped up one of her bottom
boards and tried to paddle to the ships.

"She was only a-goin’ round in circles and a-drifting inshore," he said.

They hadn’t seen any more of the crew, but the Sub stopped engines and
halloed into the darkness.  No answer coming back, he returned to the
_Achates_ at full speed.  "Squinting Susan" and "Peeping Tom" had to be
passed, but they and the _Swiftsure_ were still busy with their little
game, and so no one bothered about them.

Until the Sub brought the news, no one knew of the disaster to trawler
No. 285—not even the second trawler, which had already returned.  Some
of the crew of the _Swiftsure’s_ picket-boat had seen a sudden glare on
the water—-like a flash running along the surface—which they thought was
a shell bursting.  Nobody had heard any explosion.

In case there were any more survivors, the _Swiftsure’s_ picket-boat
went back to search the mine-field, and luckily found the skipper of the
trawler and two more men drifting about on wreckage.  Even they could
give no definite account of what happened.  One thought he heard a
noise; another that he’d seen a flash; they all remembered a great heave
under them and finding themselves in the water.

And so, in this sad way, the night’s adventure ended; and the
picket-boat having been hoisted in, the Orphan, very miserable,
undressed and turned in to his hammock.

The Sub was wretched.  He had not found the mark-buoy, and had done
nothing to help in any way, and he cursed himself for not searching the
mine-field area thoroughly, and for leaving the trawler skipper and
those two men.

He wished someone would kick him very hard.

Next forenoon the Orphan was busy in his picket-boat collecting the
crews of the other trawlers—some men from each—and bringing them aboard
the _Achates_.  He also had to fetch from the _Aennie Rickmers_ her
captain—a positively enormous man—and the flying officers, one of whom
was a jovial burly Frenchman with a red beard, very proud of being
called "Ginger".

On the quarter-deck, officers and men fell in, bare-headed, whilst the
little pale-faced Padre read the burial service for those missing from
the blown-up trawler.

Nothing more happened that day, but on the Wednesday the wind rose, and
by nightfall was blowing hard—a very black night it was—and at about two
o’clock in the morning an explosion occurred under the bows of the
_Aennie Rickmers_.

She made signals of distress, and began to sink rapidly by the head.
There had been rumours for some days that two Austrian submarines had
escaped from the Adriatic; it might be a torpedo from one of them, or
perhaps from some Turkish torpedo-boat. Some suggested floating mines;
others that an explosion had occurred inside the _Aennie Rickmers_
herself.  No one knew exactly what had happened.  All that anyone did
know, when Captain Macfarlane took the _Achates_ close to her, was that
she was sinking; that her "dago" crew of Levantine nondescripts had
deserted in all her boats; and that her English officers, the flying
officers, their men, and the four wounded from the _Achates_ were left
without any means of saving themselves.

A most unpleasant hour-and-a-half followed.

The first the China Doll knew of it was being roughly punched in the
ribs and shaken.  He woke to hear men passing from hammock to hammock,
singing out: "Turn out, sir, turn out; submarines about; all hands on
deck, sir!"

He didn’t lie long after that.  He was down, had pulled on his trousers,
found a coat and cap, fumbled in his chest until he found his
swimming-collar, and was blowing it up round his neck before he was
really awake.

Bubbles, whose hammock was slung next to his, had gone to sleep again.
He prodded him feverishly. "Submarines, Bubbles!  All hands on deck!
Get your swimming-collar!" he squeaked.

"Oh, bother!  Curse you!" grunted Bubbles. "You aren’t pulling my leg?
Oh, hang it!" he grumbled, as he saw all the other snotties tumbling
into their clothes, officers coming out of their cabins into the dark,
crowded "half-deck", and heard the banging down of armoured hatches.  "I
do hate this beastly war.  Breakfast at seven; then a cold bath at two
in the morning.  Beastly!"

The China Doll went up on the dark quarter-deck and hunted round for
someone to talk to.  His teeth were chattering and his knees were
trembling—it was so dark and cold.

"What’s happened?" he asked, stumbling across Uncle Podger.

"Something blown a hole in the _Aennie Rickmers_, and the Sub’s gone
across in the cutter to bring back our wounded."

"What did it?  Was it a submarine?"

"Don’t bother; no one knows.  Come and have a look at her."

He took him round to the other side of the turret, into the wind, and
out in the pitch-black night they could just make out the darker mass of
the hydroplane ship, apparently tipped up by the stern, and a
signal-lamp flashing on board her.  They heard shrieks coming from her,
and the China Doll’s heart beat fearfully fast.

Near them, on the quarter-deck, the querulous voice of Dr. O’Neill, the
Fleet-Surgeon, was lamenting that he had ever come to sea.  "Mother of
Moses!" he groaned, as "Glaring Gertrude" turned her light towards the
_Achates_ and everybody’s face showed up, and the turret and the
superstructure, the masts and the funnels, stood out clearly against it.
"Mother of Moses, they’ll torpedo us next if we wait here much longer!
They _must_ see the ship every time that beastly thing passes across

As "Glaring Gertrude" swept away, and everybody and everything was left
in darkness again, the Fleet-Paymaster’s loud, cheery voice bellowed:
"Cheer up, old ’C.D.’; if you have to take to the water, you won’t find
any whisky in it!"

The officers and men standing by tittered, for they well knew that Dr.
O’Neill was a rabid teetotaler, and that "C.D." stood for "Converted

"I’ve never tasted the beastly stuff in my life, and know it you do!"
snapped the Doctor furiously.

"Sadly lacking in the sense of humour you are, old C.D.  What could be
funnier than the whole seven hundred and fifty of us to go drifting
ashore, under those salt-heaps, with swimming-collars round our necks?"

The Fleet-Surgeon stalked away, muttering angrily: "I hate fools."

By this time everything that could be done to make the _Achates_ safe,
in case she was attacked, had been done; water-tight doors and hatches
were all closed; the Orphan was under the fore-bridge with his 6-pounder
guns’ crews; Bubbles was on the after-shelter deck with his; look-out
men, all round the quarter-deck and fo’c’sle, peered into the darkness;
the Sub had gone across to rescue the wounded men and, if need be, bring
back everybody from the _Aennie Rickmers_, and all the officers and men
who had no jobs to do stood waiting for whatever was going to happen.

To those who realized what might happen, and who thought it more than
probable that whatever had fired a torpedo at the hydroplane ship—and by
now everybody said it was a torpedo which had blown a hole in her—would
come back out of the darkness, wait for that search-light to show up the
_Achates_, and then take a pot-shot at her;—to those, that next
hour-and-a-half was probably the most trying, and longest, in their
lives.  The wind blew so fiercely, and the water was so cold and dark,
that there was very little chance of anyone being picked up once the
_Achates_ did sink, as there was every prospect of her doing—the poor
old ship—once a torpedo got home.

Fortunately most people have not vivid imaginations, and to go into the
battery during this time no one would have imagined that anything at all
out of the way was happening.  The men crowded there, just discernible
by the blue-stained fighting-lights, walked up and down or stood in
knots, smoking, and talking quietly about everything under the sun
except what was going on.  It was only when that hateful search-light
passed along the ship, and one saw that practically all these men had
their swimming-collars blown up round their necks, that one realized
that they did know what the next few moments might bring them, and that,
knowing this, they did not worry about it.

All had been done that could be done; of course, the _Aennie Rickmers_
and their own wounded messmates aboard her could not be left in danger,
and old "Yellow Beard", as they called Captain Macfarlane, was on the
bridge up there above them.

So why bother?—and they didn’t.

Uncle Podger, going up on the boat deck—really to get away from the
China Doll, who would worry him with questions—stumbled against someone
crawling on his hands and knees.  The search-light sweeping round just
then, he saw that it was Fletcher. "What are you hunting about there
for?" he asked him.

"I can’t find the tortoise, sir," the old man said. "I did not want to
leave him behind if anything happened."

"He can swim, can’t he?  You’ll be able to hold on to him, and he’ll tow
you ashore!" Uncle Podger laughed, and tried to help find "Kaiser Bill",
waiting for "Glaring Gertrude" to come back again and throw a little
light into the corners the "savage" beast most frequented.  He left
Fletcher still looking for him, and on his way for’ard to pass the time
with the Orphan, collided with the Pimple stumbling along from the

"She’s safe—she’s only got her fore compartment flooded—-the bulkhead’s
holding.  Our wounded are coming across in the cutter.  The Captain’s
sent me to tell the Fleet-Surgeon," and away the Pimple dashed.

A few minutes later the cutter with the wounded splashed alongside.
They were hoisted in and taken to the sick-bay.  Two of these—Cookey,
the chief cook, and the leading stoker—both of whom had had their legs
smashed, were very big men indeed; and no one who has not had to do it
can imagine the difficulty of handling helpless men of that great size
and weight, and lowering them into, or hoisting them out of small boats
even in daylight.  In darkness it is much more tedious and awkward; yet,
abandoned by their crew, and with the ship apparently sinking under
them, the first thing the officers of the _Aennie Rickmers_ and the
French and English flying officers and men did, after they had been
thrown out of their bunks by the force of the explosion, was to get the
wounded ready to be lowered over the side, and, directly the _Achates’_
cutter had come alongside, to lower them safely into it.  This was an
incident of quiet, unostentatious coolness and courage which deserves
recording.  It is, perhaps, easy to be courageous at 2 p.m.; at 2 a.m.
it is a very different matter.

And another thing must be put down.  As the first of those two helpless
men was being carried for’ard, an officer—the first he met, and it was
not the Fleet-Surgeon—took off his own swimming-collar, pushed it into
his hands, and disappeared in the dark before he could give it back.

Shortly afterwards the miserable "dago" crew came screaming alongside
and begged to be taken on board.  They were; and they’ll never forget
the "feel" of the ammunition boots of the tender-hearted marines who
shepherded them that night into a casemate and locked them up inside.
Then off went the _Achates_ to get out of the limit of "Glaring
Gertrude’s" range of vision, and to lose herself in the pitch-black
night, where neither torpedo-boat nor submarine could find her.

The Sub had been left behind in the damaged ship, to shore up that fore
bulkhead and to keep an eye on it all night.  He was as happy as a
"fiddler" to be able to make a good job of it and "wash out" the
recollection of his bad luck and judgment two nights previously.

The remainder of the Honourable Mess crowded down into the gun-room with
the joyous relief of danger past, demanding sardines, onions, and beer.
They got them, too, at that unearthly hour of half-past three in the
morning, for the purple-faced Barnes and the miserable little messman
knew from long experience what would be wanted, and had spent the last
half-hour preparing for them.  It all went down as "extras", so the
messman didn’t mind.

The Pimple brought the news that it was a torpedo-boat that had attacked
the _Aennie Rickmers_.  "A signalman saw her dropping astern directly
after the noise—the Navigator says he saw it too," he told them.

"Have an onion, Pimple?" they jeered.

The China Doll, at the first rumour of "sharks and onions", had dashed
down from the quarter-deck, entirely forgetting that his swimming-collar
was still round his neck; and they made him keep it there—blown up,
too—so that he had the very greatest difficulty to swallow his fair
share of the food—as for his glass of beer, Rawlinson drank half
that—before the Commander sent the sentry to tell the Pink Rat to "’out
lights’ in the gun-room and stop that confounded noise!"

Then they crept noisily to their hammocks in the half-deck, and,
marvellous to relate, slept like tops.

This finally concluded the operations off Smyrna—they were only intended
temporarily to divert the Turks’ attention—and a few days later the
_Swiftsure_ and _Triumph_, with the trawlers, were recalled to the
Dardanelles, and the _Achates_ ordered to Port Said to repair her small
damages, leaving "Peeping Tom" and "Squinting Susan" to play "I spy you"
by themselves, and "Glaring Gertrude" to go on counting her salt-heaps
on the opposite shore or not, just as she pleased.

                             *CHAPTER VII*

                        *Off to the Dardanelles*

The _Achates_ arrived at Port Said on the 18th March and made fast, head
and stern, to the Senior Naval Officer’s buoys, off Navy House.

It was on this date that the combined French and British fleet made the
attack on The Narrows—the attack which ended so disastrously with the
loss of the _Ocean_, _Irresistible_, and _Bouvet_, and the crippling of
the _Inflexible_ and _Gaulois_.

A very bad day it was, only relieved by some daring acts of bravery, of
which none so roused the admiration of the whole fleet as the courage
displayed by those destroyers which went alongside the mortally wounded
_Ocean_ and _Irresistible_, and removed their crews under a concentrated
fire from many heavy guns.

It was magnificent.

But the _Achates_ lay comfortably at Port Said all that tragic day,
making preparations for repairing the damage caused by the Smyrna
shells, and talking by wireless to her chummy ship the _Bacchante_,
anchored off Suez, at the other end of the Canal.

Barely six weeks ago the Turks had made their feeble attack on the Suez
Canal, and of course the first thing that the Honourable Mess decided to
do was to visit Kantara and Tussum, where the fighting had taken place.
The Lamp-post had an elder brother on the staff at Ismailia, the Pimple
had a long-lost cousin in an Indian regiment at Kantara, and by dint of
much worrying of these two unfortunate young soldiers, everyone had the
opportunity of visiting these places and picking up a few bullets.

Anyhow, they had a very joyous three weeks, only slightly damped by the
almost entire disappearance of the damage done by the Smyrna shells; but
a few holes remained in one funnel, and they looked forward intensely to
showing these to their chums in the _Bacchante_.  Eventually that ship
came back through the Canal, the _Achates_ followed her outside, and
both of them steamed away to join the Eastern Mediterranean Squadron at
its base at Mudros, the harbour in the island of Lemnos, sixty miles or
so from the end of the Gallipoli Peninsula and the commencement of the
Dardanelles.  At last they were to take a hand in "The Great Adventure".

At two o’clock in the afternoon of the 12th April they both slipped
through the "gate" in the submarine net, and anchored in that great
land-locked harbour.

It was extraordinarily impressive to see the enormous assemblage of
ships there—both French and British ships of every kind—battleships,
cruisers, destroyers, submarines, huge transports, store ships,
colliers, auxiliaries of all sorts, two white-painted hospital ships,
trawlers, and tugs.

At the top of the harbour lay the little white town of Mudros, with its
white twin-towered Greek church, and its row of spidery windmills on the
ridge behind it; though the Honourable Mess had not much time to gaze
open-mouthed at all these things, and to grin with pleasure when the
_Bacchante_ anchored in the wrong place and was obliged to shift billet;
because a collier came alongside almost immediately, and down they had
to go, get into "coaling rig", and, for the rest of that bright sunny
afternoon, "coal ship".

Everybody knew that the next attack on the Dardanelles would be a
combined naval and military operation, and as transport after transport
came steaming into Mudros harbour, the enthusiasm and excitement

Also the Honourable Mess dined their pals of the _Bacchante_, and
proudly showed them the few traces still remaining of the damage done to
the ship at Smyrna.  This was a beautiful occasion, because it washed
out all memory of the incident of the "sea-gulls"—not one of them
mentioned it—and also because the _Bacchante_ snotties introduced a
delightful new form of "drag" hunt round the "half-deck", the "drag"
being a piece of decomposed cheese (which they brought with them) and
some Tabasco sauce and Chile vinegar dropped discreetly at intervals.
As a special privilege, the "War Baby" was invited to the "meet", and
the "Youngest Thing in Marine Subalterns" joyfully left the exalted
atmosphere of the ward-room, unbuttoned the trouser-straps under the
soles of his boots—the straps which kept his trousers and their broad
scarlet stripes so beautifully straight—and prepared for the fray.

Blindfolded, and on hands and knees, these young gentlemen enjoyed a
famous "run"; and though the Padre did object to the "drag" being placed
on the pillow in his cabin bunk, even that did not seriously diminish
their enjoyment.  As a matter of fact, it slightly added to it.

Exactly what part the Navy would take in the approaching "landing" on
the Gallipoli Peninsula no one exactly knew; but when the news came that
men were being told off for "beach parties", and then when the Pink Rat,
Bubbles, and the Lamp-post were ordered to be prepared to land with them
and provide themselves with some sort of khaki uniform, excitement rose
to fever pitch.

Within half an hour the Pink Rat appeared in the mess in proper
soldiers’ kit—beautifully fitting—which, he explained, "he’d brought out
with him in case of accident".

"If you went to Heaven you’d turn up at the gate, and sign your name in
old Peter’s book with a pair of wings on and a mouth-organ!" the Sub
snorted when he saw him; and Uncle Podger suggested that "he probably
had a tail, with a sting on it, and a brand-new shovel, stowed away
somewhere on board, lest, "in case of accident", he found himself in the
other place."

The whole Honourable Mess concerned themselves with the fitting out of
Bubbles and the Lamp-post. Proper khaki was unobtainable—at that time—so
they dyed their white uniform in Condy’s fluid, and as it shrunk in the
process, and the resulting colour was a dirty yellow, streaked with
brown, the effect was not good.

"Most unsatisfactory!" said Uncle Podger, when they first tried it on
and he saw the Lamp-post’s ankles and wrists sticking out far beyond the
ends of trousers and sleeves, and Bubbles hardly able to breathe in his.
"Most unsatisfactory!  It will be an insult to the Honourable Mess if
either of you are found ’corpsed’."

"You mustn’t tell them you belong to the _Achates_ when they come to
bury you," the others shouted. "You must promise that!"

"You’re perfect scarecrows," roared the Sub when he saw them—"a pair of
confounded convicts!"

Everybody laughed at them and devoutly envied them—and they laughed at
each other.

Rawlinson, who prided himself on being a really great poet, burst out

    "Two little convicts going out to fight,
    One had his clothes too short, the other much too tight!"

There was a roar of laughter as the Honourable Mess lifted up their
voices, chanting this, and dancing round the quaint pair, whilst
Rawlinson, exhausted with the production of this exquisite couplet,
retired to a corner to think out something which would rhyme with khaki.

The Lamp-post, grimacing, and trying to twist himself so that he could
get a back view, didn’t know or care what he looked like, but said he
felt "like a prize idiot".

"How nice to feel natural for once, Lampy!" that insubordinate officer,
the China Doll, squeaked.

This was simply asking for trouble.  The two convicts chased him round
the table, just missing him as he dashed out into the half-deck.
Piercing shrieks for help followed, and the others rushed out to rescue

A glorious scrap followed.

"At any rate," said the Sub, when they’d come back again to repair
damages, and the Hun had apologized for tearing the Pink Rat’s
coat-collar, "you’ll both frighten the old Turks.  That’s one comfort."

There were so many things to keep up the excitement during those days of
preparation.  The transports, with their cheering loads of British,
Australians, New Zealanders, French, and Algerian troops; the quaint old
battleships from home, the dear old "mine bursters", with their clumsy,
projecting spars and tackle, over the bow, for booming off mines; the
balloon ship practising its funny, yellow gas-bag at the outer
anchorage, and the enemy aeroplanes and their bombs.  These last were,
at first, a source of immense delight to the Honourable Mess, but
eventually they became a little sorry for them—they flew so high and
dropped their bombs so very unsuccessfully.

"How very disappointing!" said the Lamp-post one day.  "Just fancy
having brought along those bombs, to drop ’em harmlessly, and then have
to fly back, all that way, without having done any damage."

He was quite serious about it, and, as a matter of fact, one could not
but feel sorry for the poor chap, up there in his Taube, who, having
expended all his four bombs uselessly, found he had to fly back some
sixty miles to wind’ard, before he could go and "turn in" and try to
forget about it.

Then, one day, they heard that their old friend the torpedo-boat, down
at Smyrna, had come out to sea and fired three torpedoes at a crowded
transport without hitting her; and by nightfall came the news that she
had been chased, driven ashore, and destroyed by gun-fire.  That was
very good "business".

Next came the order that steel plates were to be built round the
steering-wheels of the steam pinnace and the picket-boat, to protect the
midshipmen and coxswains from rifle-fire.  Almost at the same time the
Orphan and the Hun (who was in charge of the steam pinnace) had been
ordered to provide themselves with khaki, and told that their boats
would be required to tow the soldiers to the beaches, on the day of the
grand attack.

It was a great moment for both of them; and what a mess they made of
their hands and clothes with Condy’s fluid, and what prize burglars they
looked when at last they showed themselves arrayed for war!

Every ship had to supply one or more steamboats, and each ship devised
its own rifle protection.  The _Achates’_ boats had a steel plate about
five feet high bolted to the deck, in front of their steering-wheels,
with a narrow, horizontal slit just below the upper edge, so that when
those behind it stooped down under cover they could steer through this.
The ends of the plates curved back a couple of feet, so as to give side

Some ships built regular steel boxes with "all round" protection, others
carried the side plates so far aft that they protected men standing in
the stern-sheets; and the snotties in the boats with the least
protection made great fun of those who had more. Probably, among the
hundred thousand men in that harbour, during the days prior to the
landing, the twenty or thirty snotties in charge of these steamboats
were the most supremely happy of all.

The Hun and the Orphan went away, several times, and practised towing
the transports’ boats.  Each steamboat had to tow four of these, one
behind the other.  On one day the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers came on board
the _Achates_, and practised climbing down into the boats, down
specially constructed wooden ladders, and were then towed ashore in
twenty-four packed boats, each four being towed by a steamboat, and all
six steamboats steaming in line abreast.

On another day all the snotties and men "told off" to land as beach
parties, or as crews of boats, were fallen in on the quarter-deck, and
Dr. Crayshaw Gordon, mounting the after capstan, gave them a few words
of advice and instruction in case any of them were hit.

"Don’t frighten them, Doc," the Commander had hinted previously—and he
didn’t.  He had such a funny way of "putting" things that he had the men
laughing in no time.

He explained how the little first-aid dressing should be used, tearing
open the cover, showing them the pads to go next the wounds, the pieces
of waterproof to cover the pads, and the bandage to wrap round all. He
held up the safety-pin which is in every packet—held it so that all
could see—and finished up with: "You men will probably come under heavy
fire; some of you will get bullets through you; but if any of you come
back wounded _without_ your safety-pins, there will be the devil’s own
row."  He had such a quaint, nervous, amusing way of talking, and was so
kind-hearted and so popular with the men, that they grinned and guffawed
with amusement.

Of those men who stood there that afternoon, fifteen were killed on the
day of landing, and some twenty-five or thirty wounded.

"Thank God, they have no imagination," Dr. Gordon told the Commander,
"and can’t realize what is in front of them!"

"They simply don’t bother to think about it, Doc."

On the 23rd April the first move began.  Transports crammed with
cheering troops, cruisers, and battleships slipped out through the
"gate" in the net.  The _Achates_ spent the night at sea, and anchored
off Tenedos Island next morning.  Here were gathered the men-of-war,
transports, fleet sweepers, and trawlers told off for the landings at
the end of the Peninsula.  It was a dull, grey-looking day, and a fresh
breeze rising in the morning made the sea choppy, and must have caused
intense anxiety to those in command, because the great landing was to
take place next morning, and unless the sea was absolutely smooth,
boat-work would be much more difficult.

That afternoon the Sub was ordered to go in the Orphan’s picket-boat as
"second in command" of the six steamboats which were to tow the
battalion ashore. He was dumb with delight, and the Orphan almost as

In the afternoon the breeze did die down, and the Turks sent an
aeroplane to see what was going on. It dropped a few bombs from a great
height into the water between the ships, and flew back again.

Later on, the _River Clyde_ came along and anchored close to the
_Achates_.  Poor old _River Clyde_!  She was to make her last voyage
that night, with 2000 troops on board, to run herself aground under the
mediæval castle of Sedd-el-Bahr early next morning, and make her name
famous in the annals of the British Navy and Army for many ages.

Large square openings had been cut in her side, and under these ran
plank gangways, meeting at the bows, where a hinged platform was all
ready to be lowered into the hopper and the lighters which were to fill
the gap between her stem and the shore.

Her soldiers were intended to pour out of these openings, along the
planks, down into the hopper and lighters, and so ashore.

At dusk the 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers came on board—old
soldiers all of them.  Very silently and quietly they "fell in" on the
quarter-deck and in the batteries, unslung their packs, laid their
rifles alongside them, and were dismissed.

This was the moment for which the bluejackets were waiting.  They had a
great feast prepared on the mess deck, and hustled them down to it.

Five of the subalterns were grabbed by the Honourable Mess and brought
down to the gun-room; the remaining officers were entertained in the

"Thank God!" roared the Sub, "I’m coming in with you chaps to-morrow, or
I couldn’t face you. Buy up the place—beat the China Doll—break the
blooming furniture—chuck your gear on the deck outside.  Bless you,
we’ll give you a better dinner than you had in that old transport of
yours.  And there’s my cabin for two of you—the bunk for one, and a
shake-down for another.  Barnes!  Barnes! Bring round the sherry, and
tell ’em to hurry up with the dinner."

Every delicacy the gun-room store possessed appeared on the table.  The
soldiers swore it was the best dinner they’d had since they left
England; and the Honourable Mess spun them yarns about Smyrna—by order
of the Sub, who had forbidden them to mention the morrow.

Dinner over, Uncle Podger took charge or the five subalterns, and
piloted them into the crowded ward-room, where a "sing-song" had already
been started. The Sub, the Pink Rat, Bubbles, the Lamp-post, the Orphan,
and the Hun changed quietly into their war gear.  The Sub, the Orphan,
and the Hun climbed down into the two steamboats, went across and made
fast to the trawler which was to tow them and their eight transport
boats (empty) across to the Peninsula during the night.  The other three
snotties, laden with leather gear, water-bottles, field-glasses,
revolvers, ammunition-pouches, haversacks with food for twenty-four
hours, and blankets rolled up in their straps, were taken across to the
_Newmarket_—fleet sweeper—along with all the men of the beach parties.

The sing-song in the ward-room was in full swing as the last crowded
boat pushed off, and up through the open ward-room skylights came the
rousing, roaring chorus of "John Peel", following them in the darkness
until they were almost alongside the _Newmarket_.  Many of those who
sang it were singing it for the last time.

At ten o’clock the _Achates_ weighed anchor.

The sing-song went on until nearly eleven, but breakfast had been
ordered at a quarter to four, so older heads suggested sleep.  The
"Lancashire" officers were stowed away in cabins, beds were made up for
them on the deck; the ward-room cushions and arm-chairs all helped, and
the men of the battalion lay down on the upper deck, with their heads on
their packs.

At 3.15 everyone turned out, and half an hour later breakfast was ready
for the soldiers—eggs and a good helping of bacon, bread and jam and
butter to fill up corners, and as much coffee, tea, or cocoa as they
wanted to wash it down.

This was all the _Achates_ could do for them, and, little though it was,
everyone felt happy that each officer and man of that grand battalion
started on The Great Adventure with a good breakfast under his belt.

The little Padre, whose gentle soul had been in anguish all that night,
was not the only one who wished that their mothers and wives could know

At half-past four the _Achates_ stopped engines; the Lancashire
Fusiliers "fell in", and out of the darkness covering an absolute calm,
almost unruffled sea, came the six steamboats and the twenty-four
transports’ boats, each with its crew of five bluejackets.

Into these the soldiers filed, down the long ladders, and in twenty
minutes the last boats had been filled and towed away.

There are no words which will properly and soberly describe the
admiration felt by the officers and men of the _Achates_ for that
battalion.  When the last boat had shoved off, and the transports’ boats
and their six steamboats had taken up their stations in line abreast and
began to move slowly away, Captain Macfarlane turned to the Commander
and said gravely: "I’ve seen, Commander, a good deal of war on shore,
but I have never seen anything which has stirred me so greatly as the
quietness and discipline of those fellows—as the majesty of their

He went up on the bridge, and the _Achates’_ engines rumbled slowly

It was now a quarter to five on Sunday morning, the 25th April, the
greyest of shadowy dawns—the formless clouds were grey—a darker streak
of grey, where grey sea and sky met, was the Gallipoli Peninsula; and
three grey patches, darker still, were the _Swiftsure_, _Cornwallis_,
and _Albion_, close inshore, waiting for the moment to commence

Behind the _Achates_, like a shoal of minnows, followed the steamboats
and their twenty-four transports’ boats; behind them were fleet
sweepers, and looming indistinctly in the distance, as wide as the eye
could pierce, came transports and store-ships in great numbers, the
_River Clyde_ among them.

On board the _Achates_ the fo’c’sle and after shelter deck were crowded
with officers and men anxiously gazing ahead.

"You know that R.H.A. officer," the China Doll kept on telling anyone
who would listen to him—"that cheery chap who’s going in with them to
make signals.  He promised to send me off a Turk’s rifle. Wasn’t that
decent of him?"

On the bridge Captain Macfarlane, tugging nervously at his pointed
beard, and standing next to the Commander, muttered to himself: "Thank
God! they had a good breakfast."

"Every one of them, sir," the Commander jerked out, in the most
matter-of-fact way.

"There’s nothing like having your stomach full to keep up your pluck,
Commander.  It makes all the difference."

"I expect it does, sir.  The books say so, at any rate."

"I know it does," the Captain said, thinking of what he had been through
himself, and turning to speak to the Navigator, busy taking bearings.

The thudding of heavy guns broke the stillness, and splashes of flames
lighted up the greyness of the daybreak.

"Hullo! they’ve started!" said the Commander. "They’re three minutes
late by my watch.  I expect the blessed thing is losing again.  I’m
hanged if I know what’s wrong with it."

The Great Adventure[#] had commenced.

[#] The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps had already effected a
landing beyond Gaba Tepe, 15 miles to the north-east.

                             *CHAPTER VIII*

                       *The Landing on Gallipoli*

For half an hour there was one constant rumbling of guns fired by the
_Swiftsure_, _Cornwallis_, _Albion_, _Prince George_, _Lord Nelson_, and
_Agamemnon_; and shells from the first two of these, bursting in scores
on the last half-mile of the Peninsula, hid it almost continuously under
a cloud of lyddite smoke.

The six picket-boats steamed in steadily towards this smoke cloud with
the Lancashire Fusiliers behind them, not advancing very rapidly because
the current, flowing out of the Dardanelles, was against them, and the
transports’ boats were so heavily laden.

The crews of these boats had already tossed their oars—four in each
boat—in readiness to pull in to the land when the steamboats should cast
them off.

The Orphan steered his picket-boat—the fifth boat from the left—with one
hand; in the other he held a half-eaten sandwich.  Jarvis stood one side
of him, the Sub the other, all three behind the bullet-proof protecting
shield.  Jarvis had slept a little through the night; the other two had

"Practise stooping and steering through the slit," the Sub ordered.  "If
you keep standing up and looking over the top, you’ll get a bullet in
your head when the time comes."

"But there can’t possibly be anyone left alive there," the Orphan
protested, as he watched the shells bursting.

"Just wait!  You’ll soon find out!" the Sub answered grimly, and
noticing that the picket-boat was forging ahead of the line, sung out to
the stoker petty officer to "ease her".  This man was looking out of the
engine-room hatch, just in front of the bullet-proof screen, and popped
his head down to give another twist to the steam-valve.  Old Fletcher,
peering out of the stokehold hatch, farther for’ard, thought he, too,
had been told to do so, and also bobbed his head down.

"Has the tortoise come along with us this time?" the Sub asked.  The
Orphan did not know; but Jarvis snorted: "Yes, ’Kaiser Bill’s’ ’ere all
right; the old ’umbug!"—though whether he meant the tortoise was a
humbug, or the old stoker, he didn’t say.

The picket-boat fell back into line, and the Hun, standing behind his
bullet-proof screen in the pinnace on the right, waved cheerfully across
to the Orphan.

It was now clear daylight—about a quarter-past five.

The battleships still pounded the end of the Peninsula, and the six
steamboats drew ahead of the _Achates_, which had now stopped engines.
Behind them followed the trawlers, and the _Newmarket_, fleet sweeper,
with the Pink Rat, Bubbles, the Lamp-post, and their beach parties, and
behind her—far behind—came many transports.

"There’s the _River Clyde_," called the Orphan, pointing away over the
starboard quarter to where she was coming along, very slowly, towing the
hopper and lighters which were presently to bridge the gap between her
bows and the shore.  After her, and with difficulty keeping pace with
her, more ships’ steamboats towed half a battalion of the Dublin

"That’s Cape Tekke—that high end bit, and that’s Cape Helles—the higher
cliff to the right, with the white lighthouse ’affair’ on top," the Sub
explained. "We’ve to land in between them.  There’s a bay there—’W’
beach—underneath that smoke."

The sun itself had not yet been visible, but now it shot up from behind
a distant ridge, humped like the back of a huge pig, and blazed straight
in their faces.

"Old Achi Baba," said the Sub, shielding his eyes. "If they get as far
as that to-night, they’ll be able to look down on the Narrows and on the
forts there."

"The Navigator told the Pimple that the soldiers expect to have dinner
at Achi Baba," the Orphan said.  "I jolly well hope they will.  Isn’t
this sun beastly?  I can’t see where I’m going."

"Well, don’t get too far ahead, and don’t look into it," the Sub
growled.  "This isn’t a race; ease down and give the pinnace a chance."

They were now about a thousand yards off the smoke cloud which concealed
"W" beach, and the incessant crash of high-explosive shells bursting
there, and on the high ground above it, made the most infernal din.  At
this point the two left-hand steamboats diverged from the other four and
steamed towards the rocks under the actual end of the Peninsula; the
Sub, with the remainder, maintained the original course.  But "W" beach,
and the scooped-out gully which led upwards to the high ground, and the
cliffs at each side of it were hidden in dense clouds of lyddite smoke
and by a thick morning haze which lay on the water.  Unfortunately the
sun, shining over Achi Baba, shone full on this smoke and mist, and
lighted it up to such a dazzling extent that from the boats one could
see nothing whatever of the shore, and judging distances was impossible.

The boats were now drawing very near their destination, and the Sub had
all the responsibility on his shoulders of judging the moment when to
slip them. A blast from his steam-whistle was to be the signal for all
to be cast off, and Jarvis picked up the whistle lanyard and only waited
the order to tug it.  Plunky Bill, in the bows, kept a sharp look-out
for’ard, and every now and then dipped the boat-hook in the water to
find its depth.

The Sub, his face set and anxious, seized a megaphone and shouted: "Out

The transports’ boats’ crews immediately dropped their tossed oars into
the rowlocks, and the soldiers in these boats turned round to have a
look where they were going.  They had, until then, been sitting stolidly
in the boats with only their packs and the backs of their caps visible,
and this sudden swinging round of heads as the oars dropped, and the
almost simultaneous appearance of five hundred faces, made an
unforgettable sight.  Nothing could be seen through the dazzling smoke
and mist.

"It’s twenty to six," the Sub jerked out, looking at his wrist watch.
"We’re a few minutes late.  We ought to be right there now."

Not a shot had been fired from shore, and the ship’s shells were still
bursting—very close the explosions seemed to be.  "They must be able to
see us," the Orphan whispered, nervously peering through the steering

Then there was a yell from Plunky Bill: "Stakes right ahead, sir!  Only
four foot of water, sir!" Others took up the cry—the crew of the Hun’s
steam pinnace had seen them and were shouting and pointing.

The Sub looked under the bows and saw them himself.

"We’re there!" he roared.  "Pull, Jarvis; one long blast!  Let go aft!
Full speed astern!  Hard a-starboard!"

The steam spluttered out for a moment—the Orphan thought the whistle
would never clear itself—then it shrieked—the echo came back from the
shore almost immediately, proving how close they must be—splash went the
tow-rope into the water—the other steamboats slipped their tow-ropes—the
stern of the picket-boat swerved to port and trembled as the screw went
full speed astern, and the oars of the transports’ boats splashed madly
in the water.

Not a rifle-shot came from the shore.

As the picket-boat gathered stern-way, the crowded transports’ boats
splashed past on either side; their coxswains, perched in the sterns,
yelling: "Go it: give way!  Pull hard!  Shove your backs into it!"

"Good luck to you all!" the picket-boat’s crew shouted.

The soldiers turned round with grim, set faces, their hands on the
gunwales gripping very tightly, ready for the moment when they would
have to jump out. The leading boat wavered; she had come up against the
stakes and the barbed-wire netting stretched between them.  These
checked her for a moment, but her weight carried her through, and she
almost disappeared in the very thick and dazzling haze.  The other boats
dashed after her.

In the bows of one—with his machine-gun—was a very cheery subaltern who
had dined in the gun-room the night before, and also his equally cheery
chum the subaltern of Royal Horse Artillery—the brigade signaller.  The
latter, as he passed, called out: "Tell your China Doll I won’t forget
his rifle."  "Good luck!" shouted the Sub, "I’ll tell the little

"Turn her round!  Take her out to the trawlers!" he roared to the
Orphan.  Round the picket-boat swung, and just as she commenced to steam
out there was a shout of "The first one’s beached herself, sir! The
soldiers are scrambling out, sir!"  And then from behind the haze and
smoke clouds, from both sides and above, there burst out the most
terrific rattle of maxims, and rifles and the bark of something heavier
than either.[#]

[#] One-inch Nordenfeldts.

The picket-boat steamed out at full speed, whilst stray bullets hit the
water near her and others pinged overhead.  The Orphan and the Sub
looked back. They could only see indistinctly through the haze with the
sun on it; they could not see what was happening, but neither of
them—down inside them—could imagine that any men in those crowded boats
could pass through that fire and live.  The Orphan held his breath and
gripped the steering-wheel.  His heart seemed to stop beating: the Sub’s
face was set, and he had bitten his lip.  "They’re getting it in the
neck—my God, they are!" Jarvis said, as the awful rattling and banging
went on without a moment’s pause.

The steamboats reached the trawlers, a thousand yards or more from that
glare of mist and smoke which hid "W" beach and its tragedy, and there
they waited until, suddenly, first one and then another, then half a
dozen—a dozen transports’ boats, some with three oars working, others
with only two, one with only one, scarcely any had all four, came into
view, emerging from the mist, and bullet splashes leapt up in hundreds
around and among them.

For one horrible second they thought that the boats had been beaten off,
but then they saw that they had no soldiers in them, and knew that, at
any rate, the soldiers had managed to land; the haze still made it
impossible to see what had happened to them.

Breathlessly the crews of the steamboats, clustering round the two
trawlers, watched these boats struggling off.  The boat with only one
oar working, and no coxswain, was turning circles, but drifting slowly
out with the current.  The man himself was evidently sitting on the
bottom boards, because only his hands appeared above the gunwales, and
he kept changing the oar from side to side.

Another boat near this one had two oars working, and they watched the
coxswain in the stern crouching down and trying with his free hand to
make these two keep time.

Just picture to yourself a stream with a tin floating some ten yards
from the bank, and half a dozen boys, with their caps full of stones,
throwing stones at it as fast as they can.  Picture to yourself that tin
with the splashes round it, and you will be able to realize something of
what the Sub and the Orphan saw; only, instead of one tin, there were
sixteen crippled boats—some of them already half filled with dead and
wounded—and the bullet splashes leapt six feet and more out of the

Then imagine that, instead of a tin, it was a struggling cat the boys
were trying to drown with their stones, and that you were making up your
mind to slip off your clothes, swim in, and rescue it, knowing that the
boys on the banks would throw stones faster than ever, and bigger ones
too, which would really hurt.

Well, at this moment the Sub decided to steam into the hail of bullets
and rescue those boats.

He roared out: "We can’t sit here doing nothing. Go in and help them!"

The Orphan, pale and staring, rang "full speed ahead", turned the
picket-boat’s bows round, and dashed back towards the boats.  The Hun,
yelling and half mad with excitement, followed in the pinnace, and so
did some of the other steamboats.  The Orphan hardly knew what happened.
Bullets hit the protecting screen, a chip of wood from the gunwale hit
his cap; splashes leapt up all round him; his ears hummed with the
whistling noise.  He remembered hearing the Sub roar: "Go for those two
over there!" and feeling him grip his hand on the steering-wheel to turn
towards the two most crippled boats.  He got alongside one—saw Plunky
Bill and another hand get hold of her—had a picture of grey faces
looking up at him from the bottom of her, and a muddle of khaki lying
there across her thwarts; towed her across to the boat with only one
man; saw the Sub get hold of her painter, and then found himself, dazed
and horribly shaky and sick, back again at the trawler.  Plunky Bill
came aft, grinning: "There’s a ’ole in the funnel, sir, slap-bang
through!" and proudly showed a bullet which he had found lying on the

No one who looked into those transports’ boats as they were towed
alongside the trawlers will ever forget what he saw: men dead, dying,
and wounded, all huddled and jumbled together on the thwarts of the
boats and on the bottom boards, with legs and arms twisted strangely;
wounded unable to free themselves from the weight of dead bodies on top
of them—those grey, placid faces and sightless eyes which, ten minutes
before, had glowed with excitement as they turned them to the sun; the
blood-stained, torn khaki; the blood-stained water lapping round them,
and the one, two, and in some boats three bluejackets, in their
Condy’s-fluid-dyed jumpers, sitting among them, flopping, exhausted,
over their oars.

In one boat there was a Scotsman, in gold spectacles—not unlike Fletcher
the stoker—a St. John’s Ambulance man, and now a Territorial ambulance
orderly.  He had already dressed all the wounded in his boat, and now
stepped into another, working away quietly, as if he was doing it in the
accident-room of a hospital.

"We must get a doctor," he told the Sub; and as the trawlers had not
one, the boats requiring most urgent assistance were towed across to the
_Newmarket_ anchored near.  Here the wounded—most of them—received
further treatment.

There was no time for sentiment.  The boats were all urgently required
to take more men ashore; three of them, those with the most dead and
wounded, were told off to take on board the wounded from the others;
bluejackets were told off to take the places of those of the crews who
had been killed and wounded; and then the beach parties, Bubbles, the
Pink Rat, and the Lamp-post, tumbled down into them.  Bullets began
flying round them and the _Newmarket_, but no one was hit.  "Shove off!"
was shouted; "land them under the rocks to the left of the beach;" and
the Sub and the Orphan towed them inshore.

There was much less rifle-firing now, but many bullets came over and
splashed round the picket-boat. The mist and smoke had cleared away, and
the _Swiftsure_ was still firing very rapidly at the Turks’ trenches on
the edge of the cliff, to the right of the beach, the _Achates_
assisting with her small guns.  Their shells burst along it one after
the other, all along the dark line which marked the trenches, and
scarcely a Turk dare expose himself to fire down at the beach.

The Sub, as he approached, saw through his glasses two Turks close
together, leaning over and pointing their rifles down at the beach, and
saw spurts of sand fly up where the bullets struck among a line of men
lying prone, half in and half out of the water, in front of lines of
barbed wire.  One of the shells from the _Achates_ burst close to them,
and when the smoke had drifted away the two Turks were still
there—motionless—in exactly the same attitude, but their rifles were
sliding down the rocks.  He cast off the boats with the beach parties,
and waved to them as they pulled past him inshore.  The three snotties
crowded in the stern, and looking up at the cliffs with eyes wide open,
were, however, too excited to take any notice of the Orphan’s shout of
"Good luck, you chaps!"

Back he went to the _Newmarket_, meeting steamboats towing in boats
packed with more troops. Another trip ashore with sappers and "details",
and then he towed those three boats with the wounded to the _Achates_,
where they were taken on board.

It was exactly half-past seven when he got alongside her, busy firing
her small guns in the port battery, and her for’ard 9.2 turret-gun.

The Captain wanted to see the Sub, so he climbed up and went for’ard to
the bridge.

The Orphan, left to himself, was sent off to a transport to tow more
soldiers ashore; and on the way to her he saw, over against the Asiatic
shore and the fort of Kum Kali, the French fleet, the _Jeanne d’Arc_
with her six quaint, squat funnels, and the Russian _Askold_ with her
five thin, tall ones, and two battleships, all firing very rapidly.

Behind them lay big transports, and dozens of boats loaded with
dark-coated infantry on their way ashore.

He reached the transport, got his orders, and steamed back to "W" beach
with a long string of crowded boats behind him.

It was then, whilst he waited for them to be emptied, that he had the
first clear view of "W" beach and the broad gully leading up to the
green ridge above it.

No bullets—or only very few—came near him, and he could look on
undisturbed.  On the right, where the barbed wire was thickest, a row of
dead Lancashire Fusiliers lay as if they had all been swept by the same
torrent of maxim bullets.  He knew that they were dead, because other
men, springing into the water and wading ashore, stepped over them,
looked down at them, and left them.

Higher up the beach, men were hanging on the barbed wire itself.  At
first he thought it was only clothes hanging there; then he saw that
they had been men.  Fresh troops were scaling the cliffs; soldiers
advanced up the green slope above, singly and in little groups.  Away to
the left, under the rocks, more men clustered; and as some of them
limped along to the boats, some with bandages, some without, he knew
that these were wounded waiting to be dressed.  They crowded into the
boats he had just brought ashore, and many were carried down—among these
being a wounded Brigadier shot through the leg.  He saw nothing of
Bubbles, the Pink Rat, or the tall, lanky Lamp-post; but he did feel
certain that the landing had been made good.

Trawlers, loaded with stores, approached as close inshore as they could
get; boats of every description were flocking in, and already the
sappers were lashing pontoons together on the left, under the rocks, to
make a temporary pier.

Then the boats he had towed in came out to him, and he towed them and
their wounded back to the _Achates_. For the remainder of that morning
the Orphan was employed taking Staff Officers backwards and forwards
between the ship and "W" beach.

The beach parties had laid down six buoys at about ten yards apart and
some fifty yards from the beach, and had led ropes from these to the
same number of stakes driven into the beach opposite to them.  The
intervals between these ropes made waterways into which the big lighters
could haul themselves ashore without colliding with each other.  But
there was a certain amount of jostling just beyond the buoys, and the
Orphan had his work cut out, whenever he went near the beach, to prevent
his boat being damaged by the crowds of steamboats "mothering" the big
lighters into position.  She had a big rope fender projecting across her
bows, another lashed across her stern, and two lengths of six-inch
"grass" hawser secured all round her side to protect her from bumps;
but, in spite of these, she soon had one corner of her stern crushed,
and her steering gear was jammed. The Orphan managed to take her back to
the _Achates_ safely, and, very sad about it, reported the damage to the

The Commander, at his wits’ end for boats, was very angry.

"I’ll take you out of her, Mr. Orpen, if you can’t manage her," he said
angrily, but then sent him away to get his boat coaled and watered
whilst the repairs were being made.  "You and your crew can come
in-board and get some food," he called after the miserable Orphan.

So presently he was able to dash down to the gun-room, where Barnes had
some cold meat and pickles waiting for him.  He had had nothing to eat,
except a couple of sandwiches, since the previous night, and the sight
of food made him realize that he was ravenously hungry.  It was now
half-past one.  The China Doll—the only one there—lay fast asleep on one
of the cushioned benches; and he ate his food in peace, with the burly
Barnes waiting on him.  He was nearly as hungry for news as he was for
food; but the old marine would not talk or tell him anything. "Just you
go on with your food; there ain’t no time for talking," and he gave him
a cup of strong coffee afterwards.  "That’ll keep you awake," he said,
as he cleared away.

The Orphan looked at the China Doll and longed to throw himself down on
a cushion and sleep; but heavy firing broke out again, and, too excited
to think of doing so, he went up on the quarter-deck to see what was
going on.

"Your boat will be ready in half an hour," the officer of the watch told

The _Cornwallis_, _Swiftsure_, and _Albion_ were now firing at a small
knoll which showed up above Cape Helles, the big cliff half-way between
"W" beach and Sedd-el-Bahr.  This knoll was known as Hill 138, and
barbed-wire entanglements round its slopes were plainly visible through
the Orphan’s telescope.

He asked the Fleet-Paymaster and the Navigator, standing on the
quarter-deck and looking through their glasses, what was happening.

"The Turks still hold it," the Navigator said. "Our chaps are preparing
to rush it when the ships have finished their bit of work."

"How are they going on down in the _River Clyde_?" he asked.

"Badly; they’ve been terribly cut up; haven’t landed a man since nine
this morning; something went wrong when they tried to get the lighters
in position under her bows.  Look through your glass! You see those
chaps there under the little bank on top of the beach, this side of her;
those are all who are left of some six or seven hundred who tried to get
ashore early this morning.  They can’t budge; they have been there all
the time.  And those are their dead, those brownish lumps scattered
along the beach.  Those two transports’ boats, stranded under Cape
Helles, drifted there.  Every man aboard them was killed before they got
near the shore.  They’ve been drifting about all the morning, and
fetched up on the rocks.  Look at that splash jumping up close to the
_River Clyde_—that’s another 8-inch shell from the Asiatic shore.  They
hit her three times before she took the ground, but have missed her ever
since. Ah! There goes a salvo from the _Prince George_—she’s looking
after the Asiatic guns—that’ll quiet ’em."

"Any news from the Australians, sir?" the Orphan asked, feeling horribly

"They and the New Zealanders have done grandly," the Fleet-Paymaster
answered cheerily.  "Pushed inland a devil of a way.  They’ll be across
the Peninsula in no time—with luck."

No news had come from the French on the Asiatic side.  "They seem to be
doing all right," the Navigator said; "but it’s precious difficult to
make out what’s happening there."

Some men came through the battery door carrying a stretcher with a man
on it, his face covered with a cloth.  They bore it right aft on the
quarter-deck, lifted back a tarpaulin, which the Orphan then noticed for
the first time, laid the body on the deck, drew the tarpaulin over it,
and went for’ard.

"That’s the seventeenth," the Navigator told him; "most of them

Dr. O’Neill, capless and haggard, came up the after hatchway.  "By the
powers that be, but the General has a bad leg!" he said as he hurried
past them on his way to the sick-bay.

"That’s the General you brought off this morning," the Fleet-Paymaster

The Sub and the China Doll came up from below, the China Doll just
wakened by the heavy firing.

"That R.H.A. chap promised to send you off your rifle, China Doll; he
called out to us just before he landed," the Orphan said; but the
Assistant Clerk shook his head sorrowfully.  "No, he’s dead; he died as
they brought him on board; he and that chum of his are both there," and
he pointed to the tarpaulin.

"Someone told me," said the Sub, "that the R.H.A. chap got ashore all
right, fixed up his signal things, and sent off one or two messages
before he was knocked over.  He was more lucky than a good many of those
there; they never got out of the boats."

"Why did the Captain want you?" asked the Orphan.

The Sub took him aside, his eyes very bright. "He’d forgotten why he
sent for me, but then wanted to know if we’d had orders to go after
those crippled boats that time.  I told him that we hadn’t, but that I
couldn’t stand by and do nothing.  I thought he was angry; he said that
if the steamboats had been disabled it would have meant a serious delay.
I told him we’d only had a bullet through the funnel and a bit chipped
out of the gunwale.  He looked me up and down, tugged at his beard, and
I saw that he was smiling.  So that’s all right, my jumping Orphan!"

"Did he know that the Hun went in too?"

"I told him."

"What did he say?"

"Oh, you know that funny, slow way he has of talking when he’s trying to
be humorous.  He just tugged his beard and said: ’I thought I noticed
that young officer’s boat’.  Gosh! what a morning it’s been!"

The picket-boat’s steering gear having been reported repaired, the
Orphan was sent away again, and kept busy until nightfall, backwards and
forwards between "W" beach and the ships.  Once he took Captain
Macfarlane on board the _Queen Elisabeth_, now anchored off the _River
Clyde_, and waited for him whilst the big ship fired salvoes of 6-inch
shell into Sedd-el-Bahr village and the earthwork on Hill 141 above it.
Another time he went alongside the sappers’ pontoons, and Bubbles dashed
down to speak to him. "My dear chap, it’s a great game; we’re having a
ripping time!" he gurgled and snorted, looking a terrible brigand in his
clothes—already very dirty. "Oh, that’s nothing!" he laughed, as he saw
the Orphan smile.  "We lay in the old Turks’ trenches for two blessed
hours this morning.  It was a great time.  If you get a chance, bring us
in some butter and some sausages—and, my hat! old chap, I’m dry—dry as a
lime-kiln, and my water-bottle’s been empty for the last three hours."

The Orphan had some water in the boat and gave it to him.  The next time
he went back to the ship he got a barricoe filled and took it inshore;
but there was too much of a crush for him to go alongside, so the
Lamp-post waded in up to his waist and fetched it.  "We’ve almost run
out of it; all our people gave their water to the wounded, and there are
any amount more coming down now.  We’ve just heard that the Worcesters
have rushed Hill 138, and they and the Lancashires are going to try and
take Hill 141.  Yes, there they come," and he pointed up the gully, down
which many stretchers were being carried.  He shouted to a couple of the
beach party, and seizing the barricoe of water, they ran it up the beach
towards a little tent under the rocks to the left, with a Red Cross flag
flying near it, and crowds of men in every attitude of weariness
gathered round it.  These were all wounded men.

At this time, about a quarter to five, there was a period of comparative
quiet.  The Worcesters had cleared the Turks out of Hill 138, so that
"W" beach was practically free from rifle-fire; and now they and the
Lancashire Fusiliers were forming up to attack the earthwork on Hill
141.  This dominated both Hill 138 and "V" beach, where the _River
Clyde_ lay, so that, until it was captured, it was impossible to join
hands with the remnants of the Dublins on "V" beach.  A very brave
attempt was made about half-past five to take this earthwork; but the
two gallant regiments were almost exhausted after their hard day’s
fighting under a hot sun, and they met more wire entanglements, so
thickly laid, and commanded by such a heavy fire, that they were unable
to advance farther.  At nightfall the Turks still held Hill 141, and
separated the troops who had landed on "W" beach from those who had
landed on "V" beach.

These poor chaps had suffered terribly all day, and still remained
crouched under the low cliff or bank there, unable to move.

During the fighting for this last hill, the Orphan towed in two
horse-boats with two field-guns and their limbers.  They were covered up
with tarpaulins, and he was not certain whether they were English
18-pounders or French 75’s.  At any rate, the beach parties soon got
hold of them with hook-ropes and drag-ropes, hauled them ashore, and
"man-handled" them up the gully.  The Orphan knew, in a general sort of
way, that things were not "going" as well as had been hoped, but he was
kept so busy, and was so fatigued, that by sunset he could hardly keep
his eyes open.  Several times he had to hand over the wheel to Jarvis;
but at last, after having spent nearly an hour hunting in the dark for
an important transport which had anchored in the wrong place, he found
himself at nine o’clock back again alongside the _Achates_.

The Sub, on watch, told him that he would not be wanted for some time.
"Go and get something to eat, and a rest," he said; "you’ve had a pretty
hard day of it."

He stumbled down into the gun-room, where he found the Hun fast asleep
with his head on the table. Barnes brought him a glass of beer, and he
swallowed it in one draught.  "Give me a biscuit—anything—I’m too sleepy
to eat."

But Barnes had some sandwiches ready.  "Plenty of mustard on ’em—made
’em myself—mustard’ll ginger you up.  Just you lie down on the cushions,
and I’ll stick the plate alongside you."

The Pimple found him, and wanted to tell him the latest news.  The
Orphan told him to "chuck it". The China Doll came in and would have
asked him questions, but the Orphan pretended to be asleep, so he
tiptoed out again like a mouse.  Uncle Podger strolled in, smoking his
pipe, and began to play patience.  He watched him shuffling and dealing
the cards, and then fell asleep.

He woke.  The corporal of the gangway was shaking him.

"The Commander wants you, sir."

He dragged himself up.  The gun-room was empty. The alarum-clock on the
notice-board showed a quarter to eleven, and he went up to the dark
quarter-deck, where he found the Commander and reported himself.

"Oh! there you are, are you?  I’ve been sending all over the ship for
you.  The ’wounded’ launch is going down to the _River Clyde_; I’ve no
one else to send with her; Rawlinson has gone away in a cutter and I
can’t trust anyone else; the steam pinnace will tow you down, and the
doctors are going with you. I’ve sent four hands into the launch
already, and she’s at the starboard boom; drop her astern and alongside
the port gangway.  Hurry up!"

Still half asleep, the Orphan found this big pulling boat (fitted to
transport wounded, she had been), dropped into her, and five minutes
later brought her alongside.

The Hun, in the pinnace, came along out of the dark, bumped into her,
and got her painter made fast to the towing-cleat.  "They’re having a
jolly lively time down at the _River Clyde_!" the Hun called across.

The Orphan, turning his sleepy head in that direction, listened, and
heard a good deal of rifle-firing, and occasionally the spluttering of a

"Right into it," he thought, and forgot his tiredness.

Dr. O’Neill and Dr. Gordon scrambled down the ship’s side into the
launch; the big chief sick-berth steward came down after them.  Bags of
dressings were passed down; and Dr. O’Neill cursed irritably when a bag,
fumbled owing to the darkness, slipped through the hands of the people
on the gangway above, fell into the boat, and only just missed falling

The Commander called down to the Doctor: "Keep the steam pinnace if you
want her."  The Sub roared out orders to the Hun, and he started his
engines and towed the launch away from the ship’s dark side.

Six bells struck on board her—it was just eleven o’clock.

                              *CHAPTER IX*

                          *The "River Clyde"*

The night was not very dark, a pale moon—past the quarter—appeared
occasionally between slowly drifting clouds, and the sea was still quite
smooth.  The Peninsula showed as a dark wall rising gradually from Cape
Tekke to the high cliffs at Cape Helles, beyond and under which the
_River Clyde_ lay.

The Orphan—wide awake now—steered the big clumsy launch, and listened to
the two weary doctors talking of their day’s work and the job in front
of them. Dr. O’Neill, the Fleet-Surgeon, had a grievance—he generally
had.  This time it was with the Padre and the Fleet-Paymaster.  They had
tried to make out a list of the men killed and wounded—the men who had
been brought on board the _Achates_—but the sights and sounds in that
crowded sick-bay, with the for’ard turret-gun firing directly over it,
every two or three minutes, had been too much for them.  Their stomachs
would not "stick it".

"The only job they have, and they can’t do it," he growled.  "It took me
another two hours getting in all the names and the official numbers on
their identity disks."

"It was pretty beastly in there, P.M.O., and they’ve never seen anything
like it," Dr. Gordon said soothingly.  "They did their best; the Padre
fainted outside, and the Fleet-Paymaster was sick."

"Never seen anything like it before!  Nonsense! Nor have I!  Did you get
them all safely to the hospital ship?"

Dr. Gordon told him that he had only just returned from doing so.  "The
whole thing’s silly, confoundedly silly, and this is the stupidest of
all—this trip of ours," the Fleet-Surgeon snapped.

"It’s not much of a joy ride, is it?  You must be awfully tired," Dr.
Gordon said in his nervous, self-disparaging manner, as if he too had
not been hard at work the whole day.

Silence followed for some time, until the steam pinnace, swerving
suddenly to port to pass two trawlers, indistinct in the darkness,
jerked the launch after her and waked the Fleet-Surgeon.  "Why the devil
can’t that young imp in the pinnace steer properly?"

The noise of furious rifle-firing coming from Sedd-el-Bahr stopped him
for a moment, but then he went on again with his dismal groan.  "A nice
little job at this time of night.  Running straight into it we are."

As the boats had altered course so much to port, they presently found
themselves close under the high cliffs, and whilst being towed along in
front of them, the moon, peeping out for a few moments, made them

Dr. O’Neill had just asked angrily: "Why the devil they wanted to go in
so close!  Didn’t they know the Turks still held the end of them!" when
ping! went a bullet over the stern of the boat and plunked into the

Another came, and another.

"Keep down, under cover!" growled Dr. O’Neill, more savagely than ever,
and he and Dr. Gordon, the chief sick-berth steward and the four men of
the crew, sat themselves down in the bottom of the boat. The Orphan,
sitting exposed in the stern-sheets, wished he was ten sizes smaller.

They were close to the _River Clyde_ now; its dark shape loomed just
ahead of them, and the noise of firing crackled fiercely, tiny spurts of
flame from hundreds of rifles lighting up the water’s edge.

They ran under the starboard quarter and gained shelter; the launch
scraped against a rough wooden ladder and stopped; the doctors scrambled
up it, followed by the chief sick-berth steward; their surgical
dressings and lantern were handed up to them, and they disappeared
through the dark gangway port in the ship’s side—one of those ports
which had been cut to allow her troops to pour out quickly.  The Orphan
and his crew in the launch, and the Hun in his steam pinnace, were left
to themselves.

A maxim rattled—fired somewhere from the _River Clyde_ herself; and when
it stopped, Dr. O’Neill’s harsh voice could be heard asking: "Where the
wounded were; what he could be expected to do in that damnable darkness!
and calling for a match to light the lantern."  A head peeped out from
the gangway port, and a voice called down: "That’s not a very ’ealthy
spot, mate.  The trawlers, what comed for the wounded, were sniped
something ’orrid down there.  They ’ad to shove off out of it."

"We’ve come for the wounded," the Orphan sang out.

"Well, you bally well won’t get ’em.  All that are left are hup on the
hupper deck, and can’t be got down whilst this ’ere shooting’s going
on—they’re quite all right up there—be’ind the bulwarks they are."

From inside the ship came shouts of: "Put out that light!  Curse you!
We don’t want any light here!" Evidently Dr. O’Neill had managed to
light it, and was looking round for wounded.

"They’ll begin sniping again—they starts directly they sees a
light—better keep down in those boats. Off they go—I’m ’opping it!" sang
out the man above.

Ping!  Ping!  Ping!  Three twinkles from somewhere to the right—a bullet
hit the water, another clanged against the pinnace’s steel wheel-screen,
another hit the side of the ship just under the ladder, slid down and
fell into the water.

The Hun, from behind his shield, sang out to the Orphan to know if he
was enjoying himself.  The shouts from inside grew louder; then there
was silence.  Evidently the lamp had been extinguished.

The voice from the gangway called down: "’Ave they stopped?  Hany one
got a souvenir in ’im?"

"Where are they firing from?" asked the Orphan.

"That old castle sticks hout in the sea, this ’ere side," called back
the voice, "and them there snipers ’ave been doin’ themselves something

The Orphan strained his eyes and could just distinguish, about two
hundred yards away—ahead of the _River Clyde_—the battlemented outline
of the castle walls and, farther to the right, a much more indistinct
and blurred mass sticking out into the sea.  This was actually the sea
walls of Sedd-el-Bahr castle, jutting out on a reef.

No more shots came from there, and there was quietness everywhere for a
few minutes.  He began to feel sleepy, but then one or two solitary
rifles rang out on the cliff side of the ship, five or six followed,
thirty or forty seemed to chip in, and, almost before he knew it, a
perfect pandemonium of rifle-fire burst out, making a ruddy glow against
which the stern of the ship and the masts stood out quite plainly.
Presently maxims started on shore, whether English or Turkish he could
not know; and then, up above, from the foc’s’le of the ship herself,
several maxims added their voices to the din.  The snipers from the sea
walls did not take part in this "show".  It died down after a while; a
few crashes of musketry, then a few scattered shots apparently answering
each other, and silence—silence which seemed absolutely extraordinary—as
if it was something tangible.

What had happened, the Orphan had not the faintest idea.  He could only
stay where he was, and hope that Dr. O’Neill would decide something

Presently he heard the Doctor’s voice in the darkness: "Steam pinnace!
Steam pinnace!" and the Hun calling back "Aye, aye, sir!"  "Go back to
the ship and ask the Commander to send for me half an hour after the
next attack ceases."

"Right, sir!" and jeering at his pal, the Hun, shoved off and
disappeared back to the _Achates_, drawing a solitary twinkle from the
sea wall of the castle and a solitary bullet which hit the ship’s side,
above the Orphan’s head.

In a few minutes a voice called down: "You’ve got to make fast and come
along inside ’ere—you and your crew," so he clambered up the wooden
steps with his four men.  Very willingly he did this, for he was anxious
to be able to say that he had been aboard the _River Clyde_, and he felt
lonely and very exposed, waiting alongside.

Inside her was absolutely pitch dark; a man who bumped against him could
not be seen.  The Orphan heard Dr. O’Neill’s voice, and elbowed his way
towards him, stumbling across something which he knew was a stretcher,
but evidently not waking the man asleep on it.

"Sit down, and keep out of the gangway," Dr. O’Neill snapped, "unless
you want a bullet in you. There’s nothing any of us can do.  There they
go again, curse them!" as more rifle-firing started, just as it had done
before—one or two shots, then more, then apparently a whole line blazing
away as if they had millions of rounds of ammunition to spare.  This
time he heard hundreds of bullets pattering against the opposite side of
the ship, and the glare showed him another gangway port opposite the one
by which he had just entered.

"It’s blocked up with boards, and you can see the light between them,"
someone sitting next him said; "and those blighted Turks can see a light
inside here, through them, too."

This burst of firing died away very rapidly; and as he sat there, jammed
among a lot of soldiers, his eyes gradually became accustomed to the
darkness, and he made out that he was close to a big hatch leading down
into absolute blackness—the hold probably—and that above him was another
hatchway, with a coaming round it, the edges of which stood out quite
clearly against the clouds.  A broad wooden ladder—the foot of it quite
close to him—led up to this and, as he knew it must, to the upper deck,
where the remaining wounded lay.  The gangway port through which he had
come, showed as a lighter patch than the ship’s side, and anybody moving
across it could be just distinguished; but people did not move across it
more than they could help, because a lot of bullets had already come
through it from the sea wall.  Under this, his launch lay—at the foot of
the ladder he had just climbed up.  Dr. Gordon kept on talking,
evidently trying to pacify Dr. O’Neill, and a man near him kept rattling
something—a ship’s lantern it sounded like—so he guessed that the chief
sick-berth steward sat quite near.  People conversed all round him, in a
drowsy sort of way, as if to prevent themselves being nervous or of
going to sleep; farther away, hundreds of people seemed to be snoring.
A soldier leant against his back; he knew it was a soldier because a
bayonet kept pressing against his thigh; someone slid down across his
legs, snoring loudly; he pulled up his knees, and the man went on
snoring peacefully; out from a distant corner came the sound of a man in
pain, in his sleep.

Some men were sitting at the foot of the ladder, and, because he heard
Dr. O’Neill talking to them, he guessed that they were officers.  He was
evidently suggesting the possibility of getting down the wounded now
that the firing had died away, but they kept on saying: "They’ll start
off again in a minute!  It can’t be done."  Every now and then came the
noise of heavy boots trampling hurriedly across the deck above; a figure
would appear over the coaming, silhouetted against the clouds for a
moment, and then someone would come hastily clattering down the ladder
as if he were glad to get away from there.  The whistle of an occasional
bullet over that hatch explained this.

Another burst of firing broke out, swelled to a perfect fury of noise,
and then subsided just as the others had done.

During a comparatively quiet interval which followed, several men
scrambled down the ladders. They called out: "Worcesters to go ashore at
once!" and then went back again, screwing themselves over the coaming
and disappearing along the deck.  The group of officers stirred
themselves and stood up wearily—a tired, lackadaisical voice kept
repeating "Sergeant-Major!  Sergeant-Major!" then seemed to wake
properly, and yelled it out.

Men began to stir.  ’"Ere, wake up, Major! You’re wanted," came out of
the dark; the sound of a man waking irritably from his sleep, scrambling
to his feet, a long yawn, and then a sharp, decisive "Yes, sir!
Sergeant-Major, sir!"

"Fall in, the Worcesters!  Worcesters!  The Worcesters have to go
ashore," the officer shouted.

"Fall in, Worcesters!  Fall in, Worcesters!  Fall in!  Fall in round the
ladder!"  Men all round took up the cry, waking those asleep.  Men
cursed and yawned, and yawned and cursed again.

"Who are you a-shaking of?  I ain’t a ruddy Worcester," growled someone.
The darkness was full of bustle and noise as the Worcesters dragged
themselves to their feet and groped round for their packs and rifles.
Rifles clattered to the deck; men jostled, cursing, against each other,
and the Sergeant-Major’s voice kept calling out: "Come along, lads!
We’ve got to go ashore!  Hurry up, Worcesters! This way, Worcesters!
Fall in near the ladder!"

Men began humping on their packs.  The Orphan—by this time on his feet,
to keep out of the way—had a rifle shoved into his hands.  "’Old on to
it, mate, while I shoves my blooming pack on."  He helped the man whilst
he secured the webbing-straps.  Then a plaintive voice came out of the
dark: "I cawn’t find me pack!  Where’s me pack?"

There was a titter of amusement as the Sergeant-Major yelled for the men
to help him find it.

"’Ere it is, you blighted idiot!" someone shouted. "You was a-sittin’ on

"’Elp me on!  ’Elp me on!" the idiot pleaded.

"You’ll ’ave to ’ave a lady’s maid, that’s what you’ll ’ave to ’ave.  We
cawn’t go waiting for you, Bill ’Awkins," bawled the Sergeant-Major; and
to judge by the silly cries of Bill Hawkins, they were strapping him up
too tightly.

"Where’s me rifle?  I ’ad it in me ’ands, and now I cawn’t find ’e," the
company idiot stammered helplessly; and the man whom the Orphan was
helping chuckled: "’E’s a fair treat, that ’ere ’Awkins; ’e can never
find nothink."

The rifle had to be found.  The Captain with the lackadaisical voice was
getting impatient.  Matches were struck to look for it.

"Come along, Worcesters!  Get up on deck!" shouted the Captain; and they
began clattering up the wooden ladder, actually bandying jokes as they
disappeared over the coaming, and went pattering along the deck.  The
company idiot, who was in a pitiable state of terror lest he should be
left behind, found his rifle at last, and, clutching it, he rushed up
the ladder after them.

"Now ’old on to it, and don’t let it out o’ yer ’ands. You’ll ’ave to
look arter yerself now," said the Sergeant-Major kindly, as he followed

Whilst these men had been getting ready, another outburst of firing had
commenced, and the fusillade on shore sputtered furiously.

"I shouldn’t care to have to go ashore, out into that," Dr. Gordon said;
and Dr. O’Neill answered: "I wouldn’t go as cheerfully as they seemed
to. Grand chaps those!"

"That’s the first time I’ve heard him praise anyone," thought the

Firing died away again, until only an occasional shot broke the silence;
and with that company of Worcesters gone, there was much more room.

The two doctors talked in a low voice.  The Orphan heard Dr. O’Neill say
cynically: "You can’t get a night like this in Harley Street;" and the
volunteer reserve doctor laughed, in his funny, nervous manner: "No, I
can’t.  I expect my old butler wouldn’t sleep much if he knew how I was
spending my night.  He looks after me as though I were a baby."

Someone came down the ladder—the Orphan thought he had on a naval
cap—sat with his back against a stanchion, and went to sleep.  A man
coming down presently, knocked against him and woke him—a perfect
torrent of oaths, in a very childish voice, following.

"Why, that’s old Piggy Carter from the _Queen Elizabeth_," thought the
Orphan.  "I’d know his voice anywhere."  He went  across and shook him,
for he had fallen fast asleep again.  "Carter!  You are Piggy Carter,
ar’n’t you?  I’m Orpen; you remember me?"

He did; and listened sleepily to the Orphan telling him all about the
shell and splinter holes in the _Achates_ deck and funnel, until Dr.
O’Neill called out irritably: "Stop chattering!"

"Look here, Piggy, I want to go up on deck and have a look round," the
Orphan whispered; but Piggy said he’d spent all day there, and in the
water, with the lighters, and if the Orphan wanted to go along, more
fool he, and he could go by himself. He—Carter—wanted to sleep, and
didn’t want to hear any more of "W" beach, or "X", or "Y", or "A", "B",
or "C", or the whole tomfool alphabet of beaches.

And he went to sleep, with his back against the stanchion; and the
Orphan, left to himself, sat on some sacks, watched the clouds moving
across the open hatchway, and listened to the firing ashore, the
pattering of bullets against the ship’s side, and the snoring of tired

He went to sleep, and woke in the midst of a tremendous din.  There was
a perfect scream of rifle- and maxim-firing.  He longed to go on deck,
and wondered whether Dr. O’Neill would see him.  Perhaps he was asleep

There was a new noise now—a much louder boom following a glare which
lighted up the clouds, and then a smaller glare and a lesser sound;
nearer they were, much nearer.  "Those are field-guns," he said to
himself; and after listening to them for some minutes, judging the
distances of the different sounds, realized that they were our own guns.
They began firing two shots, one after the other.  "Two guns," he
thought; and then felt certain that these were the very same guns which
he had towed ashore that afternoon at "W" beach.  He _must_ see what was
going on.

He wriggled cautiously to the foot of the ladder—Dr. O’Neill’s voice
didn’t call out to him—he went up it on hands and feet.  As he reached
the top a bullet whistled by; he ducked, and threw himself over the
coaming, clung there, found himself on deck—the noise seemed louder
there—and doubled himself up as he ran across to the shelter of the
bulwark.  He waited for half a minute to pull himself together, and then
drew himself up and peered over.

Right in front of him was the dark mass of the cliffs—they seemed to be
not 200 yards away—and twinkles of flame sparkled out all along the tops
of them.  As he looked, there was the glare of a field-gun flash which
outlined the whole cliffs—the crash—and then a glare farther inland, and
a fainter report of a shrapnel bursting.  For an instant he saw before
him a narrow strip of beach with a dark shadow above it.  Then it was
dark again; but all along it, all the time, spurts of rifle-flame, ten
times as distinct and large as those twinkles of the Turks’ rifles on
the cliff, marked an irregular, uneven line, where he knew our own
troops must be—those Worcesters, who had just landed, probably among

A little to the right, down in the centre of that spluttering line of
flashes, there was a regular spout of flame—a maxim was rattling;
farther away inland, twinkles darted out everywhere—the whole air seemed
full of noises.  Then he jumped nervously, for suddenly two or three
maxims at the other end—from the bows of the _River Clyde_—opened fire
at something or other, just as they had done before.  He could see
nothing moving; it was all very uncanny, and fearfully exciting.  He
forgot that bullets occasionally pinged overhead or splattered against
the side of the ship, and waited there until that attack had been beaten
off—or perhaps, after all, it had been a false alarm—and gradually first
the maxims, then the volleys, then the individual firing died down, and
left only a few snipers trying to find each other.

Then he had time to look round the deck.  Close to him he saw
something—some queer shape—moving in the shadow of the bulwark, and he
put out his hand and felt the rough hair and the long, smooth ears which
could only have belonged to a donkey. There were two of them, both tied
up behind a little deck-house.  They were glad for anyone to touch them;
they nosed at him, as if he gave them comfort, and stamped their little
feet on the deck to show their pleasure, and to make him understand how
they wanted to be taken on shore.

He gave them each a friendly pat and scratched their ears, wondering
what they were doing there.

But what he wanted to see were those maxims, away at the other end of
the ship; to be actually behind them when they next opened fire, and to
find out what was happening, and what they were firing at.  So he crept
along the deck, along a row of stretchers, with shapeless forms on them,
lying close under the bulwark.  One or two groaned, but they all seemed
to be asleep, and then he gained the entrance to the dark passage or
alley-way under the superstructure.  In it a man was smoking—he saw the
glowing end of his cigarette.

"Can I get along here?" the Orphan asked.  "I want to get to the

A rough Yorkshire voice told him the passage was full of people asleep.
"You’d be doing better to go up along; keep away t’other side, it’s
safer so."

So the Orphan retreated, crossed the open deck in front of the mast and
cargo winch, found the ladder leading to the superstructure, and was
just going up it, to the shelter of the starboard side of the
deck-house, when he saw a stooping figure bending over a stretcher, and
Dr. O’Neill’s harsh voice growled out: "Here, you! come and lend a hand.
Lift that corner of the stretcher."

A wounded man lay on it, very heavily asleep; and as the Orphan lifted,
the Doctor pulled free a blanket which had caught under the stretcher,
and spread it over him.

He had not recognized the Orphan, who promptly darted up the ladder lest
he should do so, and stop him going to find those maxims.  He groped his
way to the ladder, which he knew must lead down to the for’ard "well"
deck; found it, climbed down, and then the fo’c’sle itself was in front
of him, and an iron ladder to climb up.  He was up it like a redshank,
and at last found himself right in the bows of the _River Clyde_.

Two almost simultaneous glares from the field-guns lighted the clouds
and showed up, for a moment, the high battlemented curtain-walls and the
bastions of Sedd-el-Bahr castle, and showed the fo’c’sle he stood on,
the cables, the capstan winch, some sand-bags piled up in the bows, some
men standing behind them, and three box-shaped structures—two on the
port side and one on the starboard.

He did not know what these were.

                              *CHAPTER X*

                            *A Night Attack*

The Orphan, holding his breath, crept forward to look over the sand-bags
in the bows, treading on hundreds of empty cartridge-cases which rolled
about the deck.

Another glare from the field-guns, and he saw that one of the men
standing there, peering through his glasses into the gloom below, was an
officer of the Royal Naval Division—the "R.N.D."—a Sub-lieutenant,
wearing a naval cap with the silver anchor badge.  (He actually belonged
to the Armoured Car Section.)

"Hello!  Who are you?  Where’ve you sprung from?" this officer called

The Orphan told him, and, thirsting for information, asked what was
happening.  "What’s going on, sir?"

"I’m hanged if I know."

"But what were you firing at?  Those maxims were firing a minute ago,
weren’t they?" he asked, disappointed.

"Were they?" the Sub-lieutenant repeated to the figure next to him, who
replied dryly: "I fancy I heard them."

"I feel sure I heard some little noise too, now I come to think of it,"
said the Sub-lieutenant jocularly.

"What are those things?" the Orphan asked, pointing to the two dark,
square, box-like structures along the port side of the fo’c’sle.

"Come along and see," said his new friend; took him to one, slid back an
iron plate, and pushed him into a little space where three men crouched,
in the darkness, round the breech of a maxim whose barrel stuck out
through a loophole in the front.

"Quiet little cosy place, that," he heard the Sub-lieutenant say from
the outside.  "Come along and we’ll shut them in again, or they’ll catch

He slid the rear plate into place, and led the Orphan back to the maxim
in the bows.  "They’re comfortable enough in their little boxes, aren’t
they?  Steel plates all round them, and a steel plate on top—all home

"But what’s going on?  Do tell me," the Orphan begged, looking down over
the bows.

"Would you like to start a battle?  I bet you would;" and before the
excited Orphan had time to think what he meant, he sang out: "Get hold
of that gun," and pushed him down astride the tripod.

Mechanically the bewildered and flustered midshipman gripped the two
handles, and stood by to press his thumbs on the firing-button.

"Now don’t be in a hurry; point the thing over there.  No, not there;
that’s where our chaps are; they wouldn’t like it—beastly ’touchy’ they
are; point the other way; that’s better."

The Orphan found himself training the gun towards where he could just
distinguish the biggest and nearest of all the bastions, straight ahead
of the ship.

"There’s the front door of the castle, down there," continued his
friend.  "Turks are always coming in or out—lazy beggars they are—they
want ’gingering up’.  Wait till those field-guns, up beyond Cape Helles,
fire; then you’ll see it; the front door-steps show up white.  Ah! there
they go!  That’s about right!  Keep her there!  Let her rip!"

The Orphan, not really realizing what he was doing, pointed the gun
towards a white patch, and jerked both his thumbs against the button.
His eyes were blinded as "tut! tut! tut! tut!" flashed the gun, and the
jar on his unaccustomed thumbs and wrists took off the pressure.

"Keep her going!" he heard his new friend shout; and setting his teeth
and pressing with all his might, he tried to keep the maxim gun pointing
in the right direction as it shook and rattled, and the empty
cartridge-cases tumbled on to others upon the deck.

Immediately there were answering twinkles and sparks of rifles—a maxim
somewhere above the castle doorway flamed out—the firing rang along the
length of the beach, was taken on up above the cliffs; hundreds,
thousands of shots were fired, and bullets whizzed over the fo’c’sle of
the _River Clyde_, one or two thudding against the sand-bags.

"All right; let ’em go to sleep again," the Sub-lieutenant laughed, as
the Orphan’s tired thumbs and wrists refused to press the button any
longer and the maxim stopped.  In two minutes there was absolute

"Well!  Enjoy your battle?"

"Thank you very much!" the Orphan answered, tremendously pleased, and
picking up a couple of the cartridge-cases he had fired, to keep as

"What did happen?" he asked as he stood up again.

"A strong attack on the _River Clyde_ was beaten off with heavy loss,
thanks to the brilliant handling of the maxims under the charge of—what
did you say your name is?"

"Orpen of the _Achates_."

"——under the charge of Midshipman Orpen of H.M.S. _Achates_."

"But there wasn’t any attack, was there, sir?"

"Not as I know of; but it sounds better, and we’ll leave it at that,"
laughed the Sub-lieutenant.

He kept on peering into the darkness; he seemed a little anxious, taking
advantage of the frequent glares from the field-guns to look very
closely through his glasses.

"There’s something going on down there—I’m blest if I know what!  You
have a look," and he handed the glasses to the midshipman.  The Orphan
peered through them, waited for the sudden coming of a glare, thought he
saw figures moving, and said so.

"So do I; but I can’t make out whether they are our fellows or not."

"Where are our men?" the Orphan asked.

"More to the left, along the beach—there’s no cover just in front of the
bows down there.  You see those dark shadows under the bows; they’re the
lighters your chaps fixed up.  The Turks have some maxims in one of the
bastions of that old castle; they’re the guns which did all the mischief
this morning.  We’ve been trying to knock ’em out all day, but can’t
seem to get hold of ’em."

"Was it very bad this morning?"

"Bad!  My God! it was awful.  You see those pontoons or lighters—wait
for a flash from the field-guns.  Ah! now you see them!  By half-past
eight this morning they were actually heaped with our men—dead and
wounded.  If a wounded man moved a finger, they filled him with bullets.
Not one man out of three got ashore.  They’re still lying on them; thank
God, the night hides them!  Keep your eyes skinned; I’m certain there’s
something going on down there," he added sharply.

A messenger came from the bridge, climbing the fo’c’sle ladder, and
calling out: "The officer!  Where’s the machine-guns officer?"

"Here I am."

"The Colonel thinks the Turks are going to try and rush the pontoons.
He wants you to ’stand by’ with your maxims."

"All right; let ’em try," and he calmly filled his pipe, struck a match,
the flare of which seemed to the excited Orphan to illuminate the whole
fo’c’sle, and proceeded very slowly to light it; whilst the Orphan
hardly knew whether he was standing on his head or his heels for

"Tell those two guns in the ’boxes’ to train on the shore, near the
pontoons, and ’stand by’ to fire," the Sub-lieutenant said, casually
giving the order, and sucking at his pipe as though he was thoroughly
enjoying it.

"I’m certain there are some chaps down there, but we’ve landed nearly
twelve hundred more since dark, and those may be some of them.  I’m
hanged if I know!"

"Ah, look!" he said quietly, as a glare from the field-guns showed,
unmistakably, a figure approaching the end of the pontoons.  "What kind
of a cap has he?  The Turks wear a shapeless thing, almost like one of
our Balaclava helmets."

The Orphan, hugely excited, had caught a glimpse of him, but could not
see the shape of his cap.  He was scrambling from one pontoon to the
next, moving about and then disappearing in a particularly dark shadow.
It struck him that the man seemed to be putting his feet down very
cautiously, almost as if he were looking for something and was afraid of
treading on it.

"He has to move carefully, there are so many dead lying there," his
friend explained.

"He’s going back now," the Orphan whispered.

"That’s rummy; so he is! and there are a lot more other chaps—a whole
mass of them—coming towards him."

As he spoke a tremendous fusillade broke out on shore, above where the
dark line of pontoons ended and these dark figures were moving, and the
air over their heads seemed to be filled with whistling bullets. Bullets
rattled up against the bows of the ship and smacked into the sand-bags,
one or two pinged against the plates in front of the other two maxims;
rifles began firing from the other side of the ship, from the lower sea
walls.  An answering crackle of musketry broke out along the shore to
the left; and as the Orphan ducked his head below the sand-bags, his
friend the officer, not waiting for any further orders, opened fire with
all three maxims, and two more, down on the port side of the fo’c’sle
well deck, joined in as well.

It was the most furious firing the Orphan had heard since he came aboard
the _River Clyde_.  He pushed his hand and arm between the sand-bags,
and tried to look through the gap.  Rifles began firing below him, close
to him, and _towards_ him; the men firing them must be on the pontoons
themselves.  The Sub-lieutenant saw them; jumped to the gun, yelling,
"Depress! depress! fire on the last two pontoons."  A sand-bag was
pulled away to allow the maxim to depress, and it spurted fire and
bullets; left off to correct the depression, and started again.  The
Orphan thought he heard shrieks (afterwards he swore he did); those
rifles on the pontoons dropped from twenty or more to three—then to
one—then to none; but the firing behind, up above the bank, went on more
furiously than ever, and the bigger flashes of the English rifles, along
the beach to the left, seemed to be blazing all the time.  Two maxims
among them made spouts of flame quite three feet long.

The din was so terrific that the Orphan could only just hear what his
friend yelled in his ears: "Pretty to watch, sonny; but you’d better
scoot back aft—they may come on again, and that doctor of yours may want
you.  Keep your head down, well down, as you go."

The Orphan, who had entirely forgotten Dr. O’Neill, and would have given
his soul to stay and see the end of this, found himself stumbling down
the ladder from. the fo’c’sle, up again and along the superstructure,
down and along the line of stretchers; bumped into the donkeys at the
top of the hatch, crawled over the coaming, and very gently went down
the ladder, hoping that Dr. O’Neill had not missed him and would not see
him coming back.

He need not have bothered himself about that. There was a great deal of
confusion down there; orders were being yelled out, men were gathering
at each side of the gangway port, rifle-butts were banging on the deck,
and bayonets snapping on the muzzles.  He was pushed out of the way, and
found himself next to Dr. O’Neill and the chief sick-berth steward.  He
expected to get a "wigging", but Dr. O’Neill only snarled: "They’ve
started a silly yarn that the Turks are trying to board along the
platforms—all this silly, stupid fuss—it’s confounded nonsense.  You’ve
slept through the last two hours, you lucky little devil!"

The Orphan was just going to say that it wasn’t nonsense, that he had
seen the Turks trying to get across the pontoons to the platform, but he
thought it wiser to keep quiet.  He asked the chief sick-berth steward
where Dr. Gordon was.

"Gone back, sir, an hour ago; a steamboat came along, and the
Fleet-Surgeon sent him back to the ship.  I wish he’d sent me.  I’d be
just as happy there, sir."

That snotty—Piggy Carter—was still sitting with his back to the
stanchion, at the foot of the ladder, his chin on his chest, and
snoring.  The Orphan thinking that he would love to know that the Turks
were trying to board through the gangway port (about twenty feet away
from him), shook him till he woke, asking: "What’s the matter?"

The Orphan told him excitedly.

"Oh, bother the Turks!  I don’t care a tuppenny curse for them; what
d’you want to wake me for?" and promptly went to sleep again.

For a few minutes everyone was in a state of nerves, expecting at any
moment to see the heads of Turks appearing at that big opening in the
ship’s side; the noise of firing, on the other side of the ship, rose to
a perfect frenzy.

Although the Orphan had seen the first attempt crumpled up, he could not
know what would happen to a second, and felt very jumpy, too; but
presently the firing gradually subsided, and word was passed down that
all the soldiers there were to go ashore. These men unfixed bayonets,
strapped on their packs, and went on deck, knocking against the sleeping
midshipman, who cursed them in his juvenile voice.  That was about three
o’clock, and for some time afterwards things were very quiet.  The
Fleet-Surgeon, the Orphan, the chief sick-berth steward, and Piggy
Carter snoring against his stanchion, were alone, as far as they could
see although from the dark recesses of the space round them they heard a
great multitude of snores of every variety.  The Orphan’s launch’s crew
had not been seen since they had come inboard, and no doubt four of
those snores belonged to them.

The Orphan himself dozed off once or twice, but kept on being awakened
by bursts of firing.  He did not want to go to sleep, for fear of
missing any of the excitement, so went and leant up against the edge of
the gangway port, only putting his nose out, because bullets were still
coming along from those snipers on the low sea walls which jutted into
the sea on this side.  A cool breeze blew in through the port and made a
pleasant "popple" against his launch, which was bumping gently against
the side of the _River Clyde_.  It was raining a little, and the cool
drops on his forehead were jolly refreshing.

Even standing there he could not keep awake; his brain began to lull
itself with the burbling noise of the sea and the boat, until suddenly
the most appalling, panic-stricken shrieks came from overhead, and the
noise of heavy boots trampling along the deck.

The Orphan, with his heart in his mouth, dashed to the foot of the
ladder, just in time to see a half-naked figure, his chest and neck
swathed in blood-stained bandages, throw himself over the coaming of the
hatchway above him; dragging a blanket after him he came scrambling down
the ladder, yelling that the Turks had boarded the ship and were
bayoneting everyone on deck.  There happened to be the sound of many
feet running about overhead at the time, and for a moment the Orphan was
entirely terror-struck—his heart really seemed to stop beating; but the
Fleet-Surgeon, jumping to his feet, seized the man, who was still
yelling, "Save me! save me! the Turks will get me; they’re bayoneting
everyone!" cursed him, and told him to lie down in a corner and cover
himself with his blanket.

With another yell the man tore himself away, shrieked out that "it
wasn’t safe anywhere in the ship"; and before the Orphan could stop him,
he dashed to the big gangway port and half-fell, half-slid down the
ladder into the launch.  There, in the stern-sheets, he coiled himself
up, covered himself with his blanket, and appeared to go to sleep.

"Nightmare, that’s what’s the matter with him," the Fleet-Surgeon said,
a little shakily.  "If he prefers to lie there in the rain and the
sniping, he can. Phew! it gave me a bit of a fright."

Piggy Carter snored peacefully—even through this incident.

After it, nothing exciting happened for a long time. Occasionally a few
solitary rifle-shots rang out, and sometimes there were rapid bursts of
heavy musketry and volleys.  Those two field-guns kept on, at intervals,
all through the night, but by now they were accustomed to them.  Dr.
O’Neill, who was trying to sleep, would curse whenever he heard three or
four sniping shots, and then perhaps a volley in reply. "Curse those
snipers!" he would growl; "they’ll start the whole lot of them off
again, and I can’t sleep."

Eventually the Orphan must have fallen asleep, for the next time he
remembered anything it was growing dimly light.  He looked out of that
big opening in the side, away over the grey water—absolutely still
now—and made out the obscure shape of a battleship, the _Albion_, he
knew.  To the left he saw, gradually becoming distinct, the lower walls
and fantastically crumbled ruins of the Sedd-el-Bahr castle stretching
out into the Straits.  Putting his head out and looking for’ard, along
the side of the _River Clyde_—rather nervously, because he did not know
that the snipers behind those projecting ruins had been withdrawn—he saw
two great round bastions and a huge curtain-wall with its battlemented
parapet—the main "keep" of the old castle.  Down at his feet the
"nightmare" man lay in the launch’s stern-sheets fast asleep.

Inside the _River Clyde_ there was now sufficient light to see that they
had spent the night in a big cargo space, littered with boxes of stores
and ammunition, and quite a hundred men lay there soundly sleeping.  By
the Red Cross badges and by the Red Cross marks on the panniers and
store boxes among them, he knew that they were R.A.M.C. orderlies. Two
men with blood-stained bandages lay on stretchers—also asleep—and near
them his launch’s crew.  On the opposite side of the ship he saw the
planks which filled in the opposite gangway, and close to it a heap of
"something" covered with a tarpaulin.

Piggy Carter had gone, and so had Dr. O’Neill and the chief sick-berth

Everything seemed quiet and peaceful, except for some solitary
rifle-shots which came, every now and again, from the direction of the

A man walked down the ladder smoking a pipe, and winding a woollen scarf
round his head in turban fashion.  The Orphan recognized him as his
R.N.D. friend of the maxims.

"Hullo, youngster! want a smoke?  Try one of my ’gaspers’."

The Orphan, who was dying for a cigarette, took one and lighted it.
"Did the Turks try again?" he asked.

The Sub-lieutenant shook his head.  "Come over here," he said, and
showed him the holes made by three 8-inch shells in the deck above, and
in the side of the ship where they had gone out.

"That was when we were coming along here. Lucky they didn’t burst, for
our chaps were packed as thick as thieves.  One had his head taken clean
off—nothing left of it; two others were killed—we stuck ’em down there
in the hold."

The Orphan, looking down through the hatch, was glad he couldn’t see

"There are a lot more ’deaders’ under that tarpaulin.  Come on deck—your
Doctor is ’nosing round’ there."

When they went up the ladder, the Orphan concealed his cigarette in his
hand.  But Dr. O’Neill was not worrying about a midshipman, under
eighteen years of age, smoking; he was examining the wounded on the
stretchers lying under the bulwarks, and looked very old and haggard in
the dim light of the dawn.

The two donkeys seemed horribly miserable, nosing wearily at some dirty
straw and cabbage-leaves on the deck.  "Poor little blighters!" said the
Sub-lieutenant. "They’ve not been really happy since one of those shells
went through the deck between them—look at the hole it made.  We’ve
brought them along with us, from Port Said, to carry ammunition—poor
little chaps!" and he fondled them as they put up their noses to be

He was a very restless individual, and seemed not in the least affected
by the strain of the last twenty-four hours.  He pointed out the grey
cliffs of Cape Helles.  They seemed uncomfortably close, and looked
right down upon the deck.

"That’s where those snipers are—they’re there still—I thought so—d’you
hear that?" (a bullet pinged past); "you needn’t worry—they can’t shoot
for toffee. If we move about and show ourselves, some more of them will
start potting at us.  Let’s try!"

The Orphan found himself crouching behind one of the donkeys, but stood
up again as his extremely cool friend laughed at him.

Dr. O’Neill now sent him to collect a dozen of those sleeping orderlies
and start handing the wounded men, in their stretchers, down the ladder
from the upper deck, and then down into the launch.  They were very
sleepy, and not too inclined to stir themselves; but he found a
weather-beaten R.A.M.C. sergeant—a regular "terror"—who soon began
"rousting them up".  For the next hour this job kept him busy, his
maxim-gun friend sitting all the time on top of the hatchway, smoking
his pipe contentedly and warning him whenever the snipers from the cliff
became too busy.  "Better keep under cover for a bit, sonny," he would
sing out; "your chaps are getting on their nerves."  He never shifted
his own position, although he was entirely in view; and after a few
minutes, would call down: "All right; you can carry on!", and the Orphan
and the orderlies would rush up, and start moving more men down.  It was
quite safe moving them along, under the bulwarks; but what the Orphan
did not like was taking them across the deck, and lifting them over the
coaming, with the delay there, whilst men standing on the steps of the
ladder took charge of the stretcher. Those cliffs seemed so horribly

At last they had all been struck down below, and the Orphan was
listening to a very humorous dissertation from his loquacious friend, on
the merits of different kinds of rifles (they were both standing at the
foot of the ladder, and it was broad daylight), when suddenly there was
a roaring noise, followed immediately afterwards by a most terrific
explosion, which made them both quail, and made the _River Clyde_
tremble as though a mine had exploded under her bows.  The youthful
orderlies handing the stretchers down into the launch dashed for cover,
their nerves much "rattled"; but the Orphan and his friend, recovering
themselves, jumped across to the gangway port to see what had happened.
As they did so, the _Albion_—perhaps a thousand yards away—fired one of
the 12-inch guns in her fore turret, and another terrific thunder-clap
crashed out as a lyddite shell burst against one of the big bastions of
the castle.  When the smoke cleared away, they saw that the top half of
it had been almost destroyed.

The R.N.D. Sub-lieutenant grinned.  "’Finished’ that battery of maxims
they had up there all day yesterday; we couldn’t turn them out."  The
_Albion_ continued to fire her big shells, and the bursting of the high
explosive against the solid masonry of the castle, not more than 250
yards from the _River Clyde_, made the most overwhelming and
overpowering noise inside the poor old ship.  Some of those youthful
orderlies were very nerve-shaken indeed.

A steamboat came alongside soon afterwards, and Dr. O’Neill, singing out
that he would borrow her to tow away the wounded, went up on deck.

The Orphan, very anxious to have another look round, followed him to the
superstructure deck, and there he left him talking to a white-haired
naval Captain in khaki—the Beach-master of "V" beach—and a big, burly,
red-faced man, in very much stained khaki, with Commander’s
shoulder-straps.  This was Commander Unwin, who had won the Victoria
Cross the day before.

The midshipman went for’ard to where some army officers and signalmen
were standing watching the shore.  From there he saw the foc’s’le, the
maxims, and the sand-bags behind which he had crouched. He could not see
the lighters and pontoons because they were hidden by the fo’c’sle, but
right in front of him was the great mediæval castle of Sedd-el-Bahr,
with its bastion towers—one of which he had just seen demolished—its
curtain-walls, and arched gateway at which he had fired that maxim.
Farther to the right, the height of the walls decreased as they jutted
out into the Straits; they were much battered about, and, in several
places, huge breaches had been blown in them by the ships’ guns.  Fallen
masonry sloped down from these breaches into the sea itself. Scrambling
along the rocks below the walls, and wading through the shallow water
round the masses of fallen masonry, he saw many of our soldiers.
Officers were evidently forming them up below the breaches; men were
crawling up these slopes and kneeling down in front of barbed-wire
entanglements, which he could plainly see across the top of one breach;
somewhere close by a maxim spluttered, and a few single shots—whether
English or Turkish he did not know—rang out.  The _Albion’s_ shells were
now bursting some way in rear of these breaches.

Close to the water’s edge, sheltered by some rocks, a dark-blue army
signal-flag began waving to and fro. The Orphan could "take in" Morse,
and spelt out "R-E-A-D-Y T-O A-D-V-A-N-C-E".  He heard one of the
signallers standing behind him repeat this, and a tired, weary voice
called out: "Signal to the _Albion_ to cease fire."  He heard the rustle
of the Morse flag signalling to the ship; a minute later the signaller
called out: "They’ve taken it in, sir."

The weary voice sang out again, in the most matter-of-fact way: "Tell
Colonel Doughty-Wylie to carry on the advance—as arranged;" and,
fearfully excited, he heard the blue flag behind him whipping backwards
and forwards, and saw the blue flag on shore answering.

Then men seemed to appear in hundreds; they swarmed at the feet of those
breaches, and began dodging and climbing up them.  Rifle-fire burst out,
maxims rattled, and the Orphan held his breath to watch what was
happening; but then he was pulled away, and Dr. O’Neill, savage with
rage, ordered him back to the boat.  "I’ve been looking for you
everywhere; now’s our chance to get away to the hospital ship."  So,
very reluctantly, he went back to the launch.

As he and Dr. O’Neill were going down the ladder, at the foot of which
they had spent most of such an exciting night, a big man, his face
wrapped in bandages, rushed down after them, and wanted to know if it
was necessary for him to go off to a hospital ship.  His tunic was
soaked in blood.

"I feel all right; I don’t want to go," he said.

"Take off those bandages," Dr. O’Neill snapped, and he rapidly unwound

Dr. O’Neill sniffed.

"It’s my nose, I think, sir."

"Hang it, man! you’ve not got a wound anywhere. Who was the fool who
wrapped you up like that and sent you back?"

"One of the ambulance men.  Can I go back?"

"Of course you can.  Get out of it!" and, intensely relieved, the man, a
magnificently built sapper of the West Riding Field Company, darted up
the ladder on his way ashore.

"That comes of having half-trained idiots," Dr. O’Neill snapped, as he
went down into the launch. "A stone thrown up by a bullet must have hit
his nose and made it bleed.  He looked confoundedly pleased to get
another chance of being killed—the fool.  Shove off?  Of course you can!
D’you think I want to stay here all day?  Tell the steamboat to take us
to the hospital ship."

So off they went with their wounded, and as the boats cleared the stern
of the _River Clyde_, and the high cliffs came into view, a sniper up
there sent a last bullet pinging over them.  He did not fire again, and
in a couple of minutes or so they were out of range, and being towed
towards the crowds of ships of all sorts which were lying off the end of
the Peninsula; the noise of the rifle-firing gradually fading away as
they left it behind.

It was a perfectly glorious morning—about six o’clock—and the Orphan was
fearfully hungry—too excited still to feel sleepy.  As they were towed
across the bows of the _Cornwallis_, she saw the wounded lying in the
launch, and waited for them to pass before firing her fore turret
again—she was shelling Achi Baba.  In twenty minutes the steamboat towed
the launch alongside the hospital ship _Sicilia_, and left her there.

Dr. O’Neill scrambled up the ladder, and told the Orphan he could come
too.  "We may get a cup of coffee," he said, less harshly than usual.

After the scenes they had just left, the _Sicilia_ was so quiet and
peaceful that when they were taken into her saloon, trod on the thick
carpet, and sank on soft, plush-covered settees, the Orphan fell asleep,
even before his cup of coffee was brought.

It was after half-past eight when the launch, now emptied, reached the
_Achates_.  The Sub was on watch.  "You won’t be wanted until the
afternoon; go and have a bath, something to eat, and turn into my bunk,"
he said.

Down in the gun-room Uncle Podger, the Pimple, Rawlinson, and the China
Doll were just finishing breakfast.  They all shouted questions at him,
and he was also talking and answering them when the Sub came down and
cleared them all out.

"Leave him alone!" he roared angrily.  "Let him have his food in peace
and turn in; he hasn’t had any sleep for forty-eight hours."

"I had a bit last night," the Orphan expostulated; he rather wanted to
tell them about firing the maxim.

"Do as I tell you."

"Are things going on all right?" he ventured to ask.

"I don’t know," growled the Sub.  "Go on with your breakfast."

                              *CHAPTER XI*

                           *The Beach Party*

We must now follow the adventures of the Pink Rat, Bubbles, the
Lamp-post, and the fifty men of their beach party whom we had left being
towed across to the _Newmarket_ on Saturday night.

On board her had embarked details of Royal Engineers, Army Service
Corps, and a weak company of the "Anson" Battalion, Royal Naval
Division; also a Commander (from another ship) who took charge of the
beach party, and a naval Captain to take charge of "W" beach—to act as
Beach-master there—as soon as the landing commenced.

This little steamer slowly steamed across from Tenedos Island during
Saturday night, and on Sunday, at daybreak, anchored about twelve
hundred yards from "W" beach, just as the first of the Lancashires
jumped out of their boats on to the shore.  Almost immediately
afterwards, stray bullets began to whistle over her or splash in the
water round her.

The three midshipmen, almost too excited to notice these, stood with
their hands shading the sun from their eyes, trying to pierce the cloud
of smoke and haze over "W" beach and see what was happening beneath it.

The _Swiftsure_, quite close to them, fired her 7.5-inch guns very
rapidly, and they were spectators of a most beautiful bit of gunnery
work.  This ship had already cleared the Turks away from the trenches
running along the edges of the lower cliffs, on the left of "W" beach,
and had driven them over the ridge above; now she began bursting shells
on the higher cliffs, to the right of the beach, and as the smoke cloud
melted and gave her a clear view of them and the little groups of
Lancashires forming up beneath them, her shells, which had been
searching those cliffs in a blind, indeterminate way, began bursting
with the most marvellous accuracy, first in the galleries the Turks had
cut in the cliff face, and when these were cleared, in the trenches
above.  Shells from the _Achates_ helped her; but the _Swiftsure_ was
within shorter range and could enfilade them, so that most of the credit
of stopping the murderous fire of rifles, maxims, and nordenfeldts from
this position, and of driving the Turks away, is due to her.  This made
it possible for the Lancashires, who had already gained possession of
the top of the low cliffs to the left, to press on across the head of
the gully, and for those still on the beach to advance up it.

As they advanced, the three tongue-tied midshipmen could see them
plainly, and as they gained ground, so did those shells drop farther
along, always some fifty or seventy yards in front of them.  It was
grand and most efficient gunnery, a remarkably fine example of the
co-operation of supporting guns and advancing troops.  To realize this
thoroughly, you must put yourself in the place of the men who were
actually firing her guns, and who, looking through their telescopic
sights, could actually see the Lancashires in the lower half of the
field of vision.  The slightest unsteadiness, the lowering of a sight by
a hair’s-breadth, at the moment when they pressed their triggers, would
have sent a 200-lb. lyddite shell to burst right among them.  If there
had been the slightest roll on the ship this feat would have been
impossible, but, as you know, the sea was absolutely calm.

All the three midshipmen could do was to gaze, open-mouthed, and burst
out with excited "Oh’s!" and "Look at that one!" "Look at them there—up
there; those are our fellows!" "There’s another shell, just in front of
them!  Isn’t that grand!"

Then the emptied transports’ boats were towed alongside by the Orphan,
and down into them they and their beach party had to scramble.  The boat
in which they found themselves had a pool of blood in her stern-sheets,
and the thwarts and gunwales were smeared with it.  They were too
excited to pay any attention to this, because bullets were flying round
the _Newmarket_ pretty thickly at that time, and they had to shove off
as quickly as possible, being towed inshore with the _Swiftsure’s_
shells passing over their heads.

This beach party was actually the second unit to land, and Bubbles said
afterwards that it was exactly ten minutes past six when he scrambled
out on to a large boulder, and found himself at last in the enemy’s
country.  As a matter of fact, his watch must have been nearly twenty
minutes slow.

They landed, without casualties, among the rocks and under the low
cliffs to the left of the sandy stretch of "W" beach, the calmness of
the sea enabling the boats to run alongside, and shove themselves
between the boulders scattered there, without damage.  This place was
hardly exposed to fire, and the whole of the beach party scrambled
ashore and reached the foot of the low cliffs without loss.

Here they were met by a Staff officer, who ordered the Commander in
charge of them to scale the cliff and occupy the trenches along the top.

The men had brought their rifles; were extremely pleased at the prospect
of getting a shot at the Turks, and climbed up eagerly, throwing
themselves into a broad, shallow trench running along the top.  They
waited for a few stragglers and for the men of the "Anson" Battalion,
and then the little party of perhaps a hundred and fifty men trotted up
the slope and towards the right, passing across one or two communication
trenches, many craters made by the ships’ shells, and one or two dead
Lancashires.  No one was hit in this little "jaunt", although many
bullets were flying past.  At last they were told to lie down in a
trench—a deeper one—and remain there.

It was interesting to see the different behaviour of the three
midshipmen.  Bubbles, big and burly, bustled along with his elbows bent,
his head thrown back, a laugh on his face, and his mouth wide open as
usual, his red face perspiring and the collar of his tunic unbuttoned,
charging through the little scrub bushes and running straight, never
looking behind. The Pink Rat, with his eyes bulging out of his head,
dodged and stooped, and set his teeth, very obviously conscious of the
bullets; whilst the Lamp-post trotted along, swinging his long legs, and
looking as little discomposed as if he was at some silly
manoeuvres—possibly he was setting the noise of the bullets and the
ships’ shells to music.  He was the only one of the three who looked
back, at all, to see how the men were coming along, and to keep his
section in something like order, preventing them from bunching
together—as sailors always will—and steadying those who wanted to run
too fast.

Once in this trench, the Pink Rat was sent along to make the men spread
out and take cover properly, for again they were "bunching".  The
"Ansons", though they were mostly sailors, had had six months’ military
training, and so did not want telling what to do.

Next to where Bubbles sprawled, panting and blowing, was a bluejacket
who, even at this time, had begun collecting "curios", and now showed
with pride a Turkish bayonet and a trenching tool which he had picked up
on his way.  "If I’d left ’em there," he told Bubbles, "I’d ’ave never
seed them again."

From the moment he had commenced to scramble up the low cliffs and then
to trot along the slope above them, Bubbles had been entirely oblivious
of anything except pushing on and saving his breath, but now he was able
to look about him and see what was happening.

The trench in which he knelt ran almost at right angles to the sea and
the cliff they had just climbed, and whilst the lower portion dipped
into the gully which led down to the sandy portion of "W" beach, the
upper part reached the sky-line formed by the ridge which extended from
the end of the Peninsula, parallel to the sea, above the cliffs.

He, Bubbles, was almost in the middle of the trench, with most of the
beach party lower down, and the "Ansons" above him.  Looking along it
and up the slope, he saw that the sky-line was, here and there, dotted
by soldiers lying prone, and apparently firing inland.  Straight in
front of him the ground sloped a little downwards to the gully, to the
ruins of a little house—a farm-building, perhaps—and then gradually rose
again, rising with the higher cliffs beyond "W" beach, till it reached
the spot where the white lighthouse buildings of Cape Helles stood very
conspicuously.  There it made another sky-line, perhaps eight hundred
yards away from Bubbles, joining up with the sky-line of the ridge on
his left.  Behind, where these two sky-lines met, was a small eminence,
and through his glasses he could see the barbed-wire which surrounded
it.  This was Hill 138, still strongly held by the Turks, and had to be
taken before "W" beach could be used in comfort.  Looking downwards to
the right—where the gully sloped to the sea—a strip of "W" beach showed
at the foot of the steep cliffs facing him there, with the galleries and
the trenches along the upper edge, from which the _Swiftsure’s_ lyddite
and the shells from the _Achates_ had driven the Turks only
three-quarters of an hour ago.

The green slopes were brown with a maze and network of trenches,
rifle-pits, and shell craters; and beyond these the Lancashire Fusiliers
still advanced towards the lighthouse—pressing forward by rushes of
little groups; men running a few yards, throwing themselves down among
the bushes, and firing; springing up and advancing again.  When Bubbles
saw a man fall, he could not know whether he was hit—so naturally did he
fall—unless the line of scattered khaki figures went on and left him
lying there.  The _Swiftsure’s_ shells screeching over the trench in
which Bubbles knelt, burst continually just in front of them. Firing was
very brisk at this time, both on the ridge to his left and also from the
sky-line near the lighthouse, and the crackling of musketry and the
angry swish of bullets over the trench were almost continuous—minor
noises among the deep, thundering bellow of the ships’ guns and the rush
of their shells. The Pink Rat came along the trench, stooping well down.

"What’s going on?  What are we supposed to be doing?" Bubbles asked as
he stopped for a moment.

"Doing support to the firing-line," he squeaked, and hurried along with
a message for the "Ansons".

Left to himself again, Bubbles looked out across the blue waters of the
Straits to the Asiatic shore and its high mountains fading away in the
distance.  The reddish ridge showing on the Asiatic shore was Kum Kali
fort, and under it the French fleet was hammering away at the shore, the
most conspicuous ships being the _Jeanne d’Arc_, with her six funnels,
and the curiously shaped _Henri IV_.  Not far from them was the lighter
grey of the Russian _Askold_ and her five tall, thin funnels, lighted by
continuous flashes from her guns—the "Packet of Woodbines" the sailors
called her.  Farther away lay the big Messageries Maritimes transports,
the huge _La Provence_, and rows of boats being towed inshore.
Destroyers and French torpedo-boats dashed about; the whole surface of
the sea was a mass of ships—one solitary white-painted hospital ship
among them; and away beyond the lighthouse on Cape Helles—far up the
Straits—Bubbles could hear the heavy guns of the _Lord Nelson_ and
_Agamemnon_, and the 6-inch salvoes of the _Queen Elizabeth_.  He could
not see these ships because the cliffs hid them from sight.

Firing died down, and the Lamp-post came sauntering along, looking
bored, and sat down beside him, with his long, thin legs drawn up,
resting his chin on his knees.  "Those are the Plains of Troy," he said,
pointing across the Straits to the belt of green pastures lying behind
Kum Kali fort.  "We should be able to see the ruins of Troy itself," and
he got out his glasses, and looked disappointed when he failed to find

Bubbles watched him with amusement.  "Go it, old Lampy, keep your head
in the clouds, and get a bullet in it!  Who wants to see your silly old
Troy! let’s have some grub.  I’m terribly hungry."

They pulled some stale sandwiches from their haversacks, and commenced
munching them contentedly.

"I’m jolly glad I’m not the Orphan—out there," said Bubbles, talking
with his mouth full, and waving a half-eaten sandwich across beyond "W"
beach—"pegging away in his old steam bus.  I wouldn’t be him for

"Jolly hard luck on Rawlins to be left in the ship," added the

"Hello! there’s a chap badly knocked about—look—dragging himself towards
us through the grass!"  The Lamp-post had "spotted" him about a hundred
yards away from the trench.

"Let’s go and give him a hand," suggested Bubbles.

"Right oh!" said the Lamp-post, pushing his field-glasses back into
their case, and together these two midshipmen stepped out of the trench
and walked towards the man.  Only a few stray bullets were coming along
just then.  "Hullo!  What’s up?" they asked the soldier when they
reached him.

"Got me in the knee," he said—his face ghastly white—as he turned over
on his back, with one leg helpless and that trouser-leg soaked in blood.

The Lamp-post knew all about "First Aid"—there were not many things he
did not know something about—and the two midshipmen, kneeling down
beside him, lashed his two legs together with his puttees, and began to
carry him back.

On the way the Lamp-post stumbled once, and the wounded man let out a
groan: "For God’s sake be careful!"—but they got him into the trench and
laid him down.  Then the Lamp-post crumpled up. "Something gave me an
awful whack when I stumbled," he said; "I believe I’m hit," and put his
hand to his side.

Bubbles, frightened, made him lie down, and examined him.  "There’s no
blood outside—I can’t find any—oh! but look here!" and he lifted up the
field-glass case.  It had a slanting hole right across it, and when he
wrenched out the glasses themselves, the "joining" piece had a ragged
notch in it, and a small piece of torn white metal had been caught in

"My aunt!  Old chap, that’s a bit of nickel casing—a bullet hit it—you
_are_ a lucky chap!  If you hadn’t put those glasses away you’d have
been a ’deader’."

The two snotties examined the field-glasses eagerly, and passed them to
the men close by.  They all looked at the Lamp-post as if they envied
him very much, and Bubbles kept on gurgling: "You are a lucky chap,

They hunted to see if there was a bruise under the Lamp-post’s shirt,
and were disappointed when they found none.

"It feels jolly sore," the Lamp-post said as he felt the place.

"There’ll sure to be a bruise to-morrow," Bubbles gurgled excitedly;
"you _are_ a lucky beggar."

By this time the stretcher-parties were already out, and they handed
over their wounded "knee" man to some of them.  The others went up past
the trench towards the firing-line, searching the grass and bushes. The
two snotties watched them moving about.  They would go across to a bush,
stoop down, and Bubbles and the Lamp-post would know that a man was
lying hidden there.  If someone sat up between them, or they put down
and opened out their stretcher, they knew they had found a wounded man.
If nothing happened, and they went on with their stretcher, still
folded, they knew that it was a dead man who was lying there.

More soldiers now began coming up the gully, extending in long lines as
they debouched at the top of it.  They turned to the left, coming over
the trench, and marching up to the slope behind and to the left. A
bluejacket shouted out: "Who are you, matey?"  "Essex!" they called back
as they scrambled past, panting beneath their heavy packs.  A youthful
subaltern, struggling under the weight of his, stopped a moment to get
Bubbles and the Lamp-post to hold it up, whilst he pulled the
webbing-straps more tightly.

"Thanks! that’s better," and off he went.

"Good luck!" they sang out after him.

Almost directly after this, the order came for the "Ansons" and the
beach party to fall back to the beach.  "That finishes soldiering; now
we’ve got to be labourers," the men grumbled as they straggled down the
gully, helping any wounded they met on the way.

And now they saw that horrible line of dead, lying at the water’s edge,
with the sea lapping round their legs and bodies, and the men hanging
over the rows of barbed wire.

"It’s rotten.  It spoils all the fun," said the Lamp-post, as he stepped
across the body of a very finely-made man lying face downwards in the
sand, one hand still gripping his rifle, and the fingers of the other
still dug into the sand.  "Look at those bits of firewood in the straps
of his pack.  Poor chap!  He’ll never want them to cook his food with.
It’s rather rotten, isn’t it?"

"Don’t be an ass," Bubbles said comfortingly.  He wasn’t much of a
philosopher, and these sights did not affect him.

It was now about half-past nine, and by this time a large number of
boats, full of stores, had wedged themselves among the rocks—farther
along, where the beach party had landed—and the crews were throwing them
out, shoving off, and going back for more. Army Service Corps men were
already taking charge of them and taking them higher up the beach; the
Sappers were already busy building a pier with casks and pontoons; and
among all this hustle and bustle, the wounded sat or lay huddled up
against the foot of the cliffs, waiting whilst the army doctors went
from one to the other.  The first thing that the Lamp-post and Bubbles
had to do was to drive six stakes into the beach whilst six buoys were
being moored, some sixty yards out, in the sea, and then stretch hawsers
from each stake to its opposite buoy—as you have read before.  That took
a good hour, and when the big lighters came hauling themselves into
these rope "gangways" they and their men had to unload them.

Whenever there was not a boat to unload, there were wounded men to carry
down to the empty boats. They were not idle for a moment, and all the
time stray bullets were falling on the beach and occasionally wounding
some of the men there.  One of the Lamp-post’s "section" got a bullet in
his side and had to be sent off to the _Achates_, but no other of the
beach party was hit that day.  However, they were all much too busy to
worry about, or even notice, these bullets, and never had a "stand easy"
until about two o’clock, when they watched the shells from the _Albion_
and _Cornwallis_ bursting round Hill 138, beyond the lighthouse ridge,
and listened to the _Swiftsure’s_ shells screaming overhead again to
burst in front of the advancing Worcesters.  They hastily munched a bit
of biscuit and tore off a bit of bully beef, had a pull at their nearly
empty water-bottles; but more lighters coming in, crammed with stores,
they went on with their work.  Much heavy firing went on, stray bullets
flipped about in all directions, and by half-past three they heard that
the Worcesters had captured the hill; and, half an hour later still, had
to help the wounded who streamed back down the gully from that gallant
little assault.

The Orphan brought them in a barricoe of water about this time, but that
the wounded drank. Fortunately, a water lighter was brought ashore and
beached shortly afterwards, and the Sappers pumped the water into a
canvas tank they set up at the water’s edge, so they didn’t really want
for long.  It was rather unpleasant to go and get it, because you had to
pass along and step across those dead men lying there.  There was no
time to move these, and they lay where they had fallen, when scrambling
out of the boats, all that day and all the night, until next morning.

After the Worcesters captured Hill 138, there was very little firing for
some time.  Later on, before sunset, the beach party had the joy of
helping to run two field-guns out of horse-boats, and helped to haul
them up the gully with hook-ropes—hauling them almost as high as the
trench they had occupied in the early morning, then hurrying back for
their limbers.

"What a thing to remember!" the Lamp-post said, patting the
tarpaulin-covered gun, and panting with the exertion of hauling it up
the steep gully.  "Fancy helping with the very first gun to land!"

Dusk came, and night fell grey and calm.  Flares—oil flares, the same as
those one sees over a green-grocer’s barrow, in a market, at home—were
lighted and placed along the beach.  No one had a "stand easy".

"What have you got?" would be shouted as a loaded boat crept in through
the dark.  "Come over this way—haul on that rope under your bows—that’s
better—there’s room here."

Perhaps they were Ordnance stores or Army Service stores—each had to be
kept apart—the coloured stripes on the boxes would be scanned by the
light of a lantern or of the flares.  The bluejackets hoisted them on to
the shore, and placed them in separate heaps for the soldier
working-parties to take away to their proper "depots", already formed,
one on one side of the gully, the other on the other side.  Hour after
hour this work went on; the men commenced to realize that they were
almost "played out", and, without thinking, would throw themselves down
and rest whenever there was the chance.  Rifle-fire grew as the night
went on, and wounded came back with stories of strong Turkish
counter-attacks on the ridge beyond the cliffs.  If they had had time to
notice it they would have heard one continuous splutter of musketry, but
they were too tired to do anything except go on working mechanically.

At about midnight things became serious.  Several men on the beach had
been hit by stray bullets, and word was passed round to put out all the
flares; news came that the troops up above were exhausted and running
short of ammunition, and eventually the order ran along the beach:
"Everyone with a rifle to fall in!"

The bluejacket beach party dropped their boxes and groped for their
rifles, fell in, and were marched by the Lamp-post and Bubbles up the
gully again. The Pink Rat dashed about carrying orders from the
Commander and the Beach-master.

Those who had no rifles were told to get hold of ammunition-boxes and
find their way up to the firing-line. The position was really serious at
this time, though Bubbles and the Lamp-post were much too stupefied with
fatigue to realize this.

Once up at the top of the gully, someone gave the order to turn to the
left, and led the beach party up the slope.  Things were evidently
pretty lively; the air seemed alive with bullets, and the ridge was
outlined by spurts of flame.  They came to a trench running parallel
with, and below, this ridge, and were told to lie down in it.  "Line
out, men!  You may be wanted to reinforce the firing-trench in front.
Don’t fire unless you get the order," and the officer, whoever he was,
disappeared in the dark, leaving Bubbles and the Lamp-post—now
thoroughly awake—to spread their men along the trench.  Some of their
friends—the Ansons—joined them, and presently the Beach-master, the
Commander, and the Pink Rat found them too.

For an hour they lay there doing nothing, Bubbles and the Lamp-post
lying flat on their stomachs, next to a Staff officer at a telephone,
who told them from time to time how things were "going".  They both
hoped that the front trench _would_ require reinforcing.

Then they were taken out of that trench, and brought back to one still
farther in the rear—almost on the edge of the cliffs.  The men, losing
interest, coiled up and went to sleep.

Some time afterwards there were calls for "volunteers to carry up
ammunition"—the firing-line was "shrieking" for more cartridges.

"Let’s go!" the Lamp-post suggested.  "We’re not doing any good here; we
can carry boxes all right."

They found the Commander, who gave them leave. "Be careful," he said;
"and you’re not to stop up there."

They scrambled to their right, to the foot of the gully, and found the
stacked ammunition-boxes by marking the line of men who came from them
carrying boxes on their shoulders.

They seized a box between them.  A small man—it was the Beach-master’s
servant—was trying to lift one on his shoulder.  The three of them took
the two between them—Bubbles gripping a loop of each box—and together
they "lugged" them up the gully.

At the top stood someone shouting out: "You go straight on along the
edge of the cliff.—Keep along the Turks’ trench there, as far as you can
go; that’ll take you right.—You go straight up the slope, away from the
sea.—You get along to the left, as far as you can go—keep going uphill."

As the Lamp-post, Bubbles, and the little servant came panting up, he
sent them along the edge of the cliff, in the lighthouse direction.
"Hurry along!" he called after them.  "Keep along the trench."

Off they went as fast as they could; an ill-assorted trio, for the
Lamp-post’s long legs and the servant’s short ones did not keep step.
The little man panted in the rear, but kept on bravely; Bubbles’s two
hands soon began to be cramped.

They found the trench and followed it.  The night was almost pitch-dark;
but the rifle-firing ahead, to the left of them, gave an unsteady light,
just sufficient for them to see the dark line of the trench.  On their
right, the cool wind blew gently up from the sea and the edge of the
cliffs; it seemed to be humming with bullets.  People kept meeting
them—appearing out of the darkness, bumping into them, and disappearing;
all had the same cry—"Hurry up!" as they dashed down for more

"How much farther?" Bubbles, whose hands were so cramped that he could
not now feel his fingers, called to a passing soldier.

"A hundred yards," the man shouted as he ran past.

The Lamp-post caught his foot in something and fell; the box of
ammunition fell out of Bubbles’s cramped fingers—fell on something
soft—a dead man. The Lamp-post jumped up, seized the box, hoisted it on
his shoulder, and disappeared ahead; Bubbles and the servant followed
with the other.


They were very near the front trench now; the whole ridge near the
lighthouse and to the left of them was almost continuously outlined by
the flashes of incessant musketry.

Bubbles panted—his ear-drums were splitting—the little servant was
catching his breath with half-frightened gulps.  Then they cannoned
against a bend in the trench, and were going on, when a gruff voice sang
out: "Put it down here!  Keep your heads down, damn you!  Cut away back
for more!"

The Lamp-post joined them, breathing hard, and together, empty-handed,
they ran back as fast as the narrowness of the trench and the darkness
would allow them; the noise of the bullets coming along from behind, and
pinging round their ears, making them go faster.

Those two field-guns began firing just about then, lighting up the whole
place with the glare of their flash, so that they could see, every time
they fired, the trench in front of them, and the "drawn" faces of the
men coming along it with more ammunition-boxes.

The noise of these guns and their bursting shrapnel was most comforting.
They realized then why it is that soldiers so love the sound of
supporting guns.

They regained the gully, dashed down it, and got hold of more
ammunition.  Each of the midshipmen put a box on his shoulder this time,
and left the little servant to bring up a case by himself as best he
could. On their way along the trench, at a place where it was deep and
narrow, they had to push past two men crouching together.

"What’s the matter?  What are you doing?" they asked, taking a breather.

"We’re wounded," they answered in a dull, stupid way.

"Can you walk?"


"Well, don’t block up the place.  Get away back to the beach."

When they returned, these two were still there.

The Lamp-post had tripped over their feet and their rifles, and they
blocked the trench.

"Where are you wounded?" he asked savagely.

"In the arm," one said, holding his right arm; the other growled
sullenly that he’d been hit in the shoulder.

Like lightning the Lamp-post pulled up the man’s sleeve and his
shirt-sleeve, and ran his fingers up the arm.  He tore open the other
man’s tunic, and passed his hand under his shirt and over his
shoulder—felt nothing—felt no blood on his hands—looked at them as a
field-gun flashed, and found none.

"Get out of it!" he yelled at them.  "You’re neither of you touched."

"We ain’t ’ad nothink to eat since last night," one of them whined.

"Get out of it!" the Lamp-post kept yelling.  "Go back to your
regiment," and losing his temper completely, as the two men never
attempted to move, struck one in the face—hard; but he was so absolutely
cowed and exhausted that he only uttered a pitiful moan, and sunk a
little farther down in the trench.

"If you are here when I come back," the Lamp-post hissed, "I’ll shoot
the two of you!" and the two snotties doubled back for more ammunition,
passing the little servant staggering along under his load. "I’m all
right, sir!" he gasped as they passed along the trench.  When they did
come back for the third time, those two men had disappeared, they never
knew where.  They were the only panic-stricken men they saw that day or

On their third return journey the volume of fire was appreciably
lessening, and they brought back word that no more ammunition was wanted
in that direction.  They were sent back to the beach party, and wandered
about for a long time on the exposed slope above the gully until they
stumbled across them, and reported themselves to the Commander. "We took
up six cases between us, and the Captain’s servant—that little chap—took
up two at least."  Then they flung themselves down beside their friend
with the telephone, who told them that "all was gay".

Most of the men in that trench were sound asleep, and the two tired
snotties would have fallen asleep too, had not the Pink Rat glided along
the trench to ask them where they’d been and what they’d done.

"I should have loved it," he kept on saying, "only the Commander
wouldn’t let me go."

They did not altogether believe him.

Rifle-firing had now dwindled to an occasional shot from some nervous
rifle.  The Turks by this time had given up any idea of pushing our
people back into the sea, and only the two field-guns kept up a
monotonous barking all night through.

Just before dawn the beach party was withdrawn, and staggered down to
"W" beach to commence another day’s work; and, later on, Bubbles
overheard one horny A.B. explain to a fat A.S.C. sergeant: "If those
soldier chaps ’ad given way a bit, us chaps would ’ave ’ad a chawnce;
but they ’eld on—the silly blighters!"

That beach party, ever afterwards, had a grievance.

Before the men "set to" again, they were given a little time to get
food.  Then they started to unload more stores.  Stores simply poured
ashore: clumsy bulky things like water-carts—more guns—two 60-pounder
"heavy" guns and their limbers (these were placed in position behind the
ridge, almost at the end of the Peninsula)—reels of telephone
cable—tents for stores—hundreds and hundreds of boxes of
ammunition—balks of timber for piers.

Horses began to arrive—big fellows for the heavy guns—Clydesdales
perhaps—great lovable fellows with a roguish eye for the beach, which
made the sailors love them all the more.  These last they handled as no
one else in the world can handle them. Give a bluejacket anything on
four feet, from an elephant to a pig, and he’ll get it ashore all right.
They’ve got "a way with them", and can coax a nervous horse or an
obstinate mule better than anyone else—or think they can, which is more
than half the battle.  Perhaps the whole secret lies in the fact that
they are so accustomed to shifting heavy weights that, if a beast
resists all their blandishments, they know that hauling on to a rope
passed round their "sterns" will work the oracle.

Luckily, by the time they reached the shore in horse-boats, these poor,
patient creatures had gone through so many extraordinary experiences
that they did not worry much what happened to them.  It was grand to see
their pleasure when they felt firm ground once more under their feet
and, when they were taken up the gully, saw grass growing once again.
Mules came—mules in hundreds; but nobody can be really fond of a
mule—not in a passing acquaintance, anyway.

The Sappers made great headway with their pier of trestles, casks, and
planks—No. 3 Pier—some way to the east of the pontoons they had placed
in position, the day before, and called No. 2 Pier.  They also
discovered a freshwater spring at the foot of the cliffs, about two
hundred yards beyond "W" beach.  The discovery of this seems now a
little matter, hardly worth recording; but quite possibly it was the
most important event of the twenty-four hours.

That day, also, the few Turkish prisoners who had been captured,
unwounded, set to work with a will to build a small breakwater, which
eventually became the base of No. 1 Pier.

The "Howe" Battalion, R.N.D., also began making roadways.

Work for the beach party became slacker towards night, not because there
was less to do, but because the men were absolutely "played out".
Officers and men had a regular "stand off", after dark, and a proper
meal.  They also had time to peg off the site for the naval camp with
ropes, just below the Ordnance Store Depots, and to lay down some strips
of canvas on the sandy ground.  They were also put in two "watches",
half of them working for four hours, and the other half working for the
next four, and so on.

Bubbles, who had the first watch "off", crept under his bit of canvas
and fell asleep in a "brace of shakes", whilst the Lamp-post stalked
back to the beach with his own section of men, and went on working.  If
it had been light enough to see that young officer’s face, you would
have noticed that his eyes seemed to have sunk back into his head, and
that he kept on biting his lips to keep himself awake.

                             *CHAPTER XII*

                           *Off Cape Helles*

The movements of the transports, store ships, and auxiliaries of all
kinds were controlled from the _Achates_, and to cope with this work
additional officers had been attached to her.  An Admiral hoisted his
flag in her, and brought his Staff, including two Assistant Clerks;
three Captains joined as Naval Transport Officers—"N.T.O.’s"—and round
her gangways hovered, night and day, a restless crowd of steamboats,
picket-boats, and pinnaces—lent for various purposes from other ships.
Each of these steamboats had its midshipman—some of them two, working
watch and watch, twenty-four hours "on", and twenty-four hours "off"
duty—with the result that the Honourable Mess was completely overrun
with strangers.

With the Pink Rat, the Lamp-post, and Bubbles away _all_ the time, the
Orphan, the Hun, and Rawlins—who relieved these, two in turn—away _most_
of the time, and the Pimple spending most of his days and a good many of
his nights visiting transports with the Navigator, when that officer
went away to anchor them in their proper places, there was practically
no one left except Uncle Podger, the China Doll, and the Sub. Now the
Sub was in charge of all steamboats; it was his duty to hoist them out
of the water when they required repairs, to get the repairs carried out
as quickly as possible, and then hoist them into the water again. He
also was in charge of all the coaling and watering of these boats.
These duties kept him so constantly employed that he very seldom spent
much time in the gun-room.  In fact, Barnes generally left something in
his cabin for him to eat, whenever the opportunity permitted.

Of all the Honourable Mess, practically only Uncle Podger and the China
Doll remained and came to meals as before.  The result was that,
twenty-four hours after the _Achates_ had anchored off "W" beach, the
mess groaned under the weight of the Barbarians, and the Midianites, in
the guise of tired, hungry snotties from other ships, and the Admiral’s
two Assistant Clerks had descended, pretty completely, on the fruitful
land of her gun-room.  They crowded down into it in their
Condy’s-fluid-stained "ducks"; they lay on the cushions and slept; lay
in the one easy-chair and slept; came in at all hours of the day and
night, demanding food, and drove the patient Barnes and the little
messman nearly off their heads.

The miserable little rat of a messman, thoughtless of the morrow, and
eager to turn an honest penny just as quickly as he could, produced all
the stores he had laid in at Portsmouth and again at Malta—stores which
had been intended to delight the stomachs of the Honourable Mess for
many "moons": tins of dainty biscuits, cakes, boxes of chocolate and
preserved fruit, bottles of anchovies, jars of bloater and anchovy
paste, jars of Oxford marmalade, and tins of Oxford sausages and of
tongue—and many other rare delicacies, impossible now to replace; and
this insatiable crowd of sojourners realized, like one man, that though
their work was hard and the hours long, their feet were indeed cast in
fruitful and pleasing places.  Now the Pimple and the China Doll
worshipped their stomachs with an unswerving devotion, unalloyed by the
pangs of indigestion, so watched these intruders working havoc among the
gun-room stores with feelings of keen agony.  They realized, only too
well, the barrenness which would soon fall to their lot, and they
implored the Sub to stop these devastating demands on luxuries and
"extras" before it was too late. Worst blow of all: that one last barrel
of beer wouldn’t drip another drop, however hard you blew down the vent.

But the Sub was so seldom in the gun-room that he did not, for the first
few days, realize the impending danger.  It was on the third day, just
as he had received an imploring, urgent order from the Commander, "to
hoist in the General’s picket-boat and hack away a coil of rope which
had wrapped itself round the screw and shaft, and get her into the water
again as quickly as ever he could", that he was waylaid by these two
young gentlemen, who rushed to him with anxious faces.  "Can’t something
be done?  It’s simply awful!  One of the _Lord Nelson’s_ snotties has
just had his second box—his second box to-day—of those "chocs" with
walnuts on the top!"

They ran back much faster than they came; but that very day the Sub had
the whole tragedy brought vividly before him, when, later on, going down
to his cabin for a cup of tea, and feeling he wanted something "tasty",
he ordered a pot of anchovy paste.

Barnes came back with a long face.  "That ’ere rat of a messman, ’e’s
been and gone and let all of ’em strange young gen’l’men ’ave all the
han-chovy, sir. ’E ain’t got none left, sir, but ’e ’as just one pot of
chicken-and-’am what’s gone an’ got a bit mouldy. There won’t be ’ardly
nothink left of nothink, what with them strange young gen’l’men, and the
young gen’l’men what’s gone with the beach parties a-sending off chits
for this and chits for that, as if this ’ere ship was a Lipton’s

"It’s just as bad along in the canteen, for’ard, sir," he added
dolefully; "beach parties and all of these stranger boats’ crews,
they’ve just been and gone and raided it, that they ’ave; nothink there
now, scarcely, but penny bottles of Worcester sauce and tins of
blackin’.  It ain’t ’ardly fair; no, nor it isn’t."

Even Uncle Podger thought things were going too far when one day a
midshipman from one of these ships ordered four tins of Oxford sausages
to be sent down to his boat’s crew.

"It may be very pretty to watch," he said, finding the Sub in his cabin,
"but it’s rotten bad luck on us."

The Sub was worried.  "You see, it’s like this," he answered; "they’re
rather like guests, and we can’t be rude to them.  But I’ll write out a
notice which won’t hurt their feelings, and may be some good; we’ll
stick it on the notice board."

He wrote out several; he didn’t like any of them, and tore them up,
saying: "We can’t be rude, can we?"  And then, getting impatient, tore
up the last, and burst out with: "Well, let the blessed things go, and
don’t let’s worry, Uncle, old chap!  You and I aren’t particular."

So things took their course unchecked, till the messman, at the end of
ten days or so, announced to the rapacious throng, and the miserable
Pimple and China Doll, that he had nothing left in his private store
except one bottle of pickles and a bottle of Eno’s fruit salt. Even that
pot of mouldy "chicken-and-ham" had been "taken up".

It is certain that if the Pimple or the China Doll were asked, now, what
went on during the days following the landing of "The Great Adventure",
and what struck them most forcibly, both of them would tell of the
snotty who had eaten two boxes of "walnut chocolates" in one day—the two
last boxes in the messman’s store.

The China Doll would also recount days of unaccustomed toil, when he was
attached to one of the Naval Transport Officers as Clerk, and had to
copy out sailing orders and check lists of arrivals and sailings of
ships; work which frequently interfered with his great delight of
climbing to the main-top, and looking through the range-finder there
(against all orders, it may be said) at the shells bursting on the
slopes of Achi Baba and among the windmills and houses of the village of
Krithia.  For the first few days he had felt very proud of his new job,
carried a big correspondence book about with him, and felt himself as
important as those very important young officers, the Admiral’s
Assistant Clerks; but as the days wore on, it became monotonous and
irksome.  The Captain whom he thus "assisted" was none too gentle with
his mistakes—which were many—and he wished that the old days would
return, when he had nothing to do but sit on the office stool in front
of a ship’s ledger, and kick his feet against the bulkhead until Uncle
Podger told him to clear out of it.  If only he kicked that bulkhead
hard enough and often enough, Uncle Podger would never keep him long.
It had been such a pleasant kind of a life, and in those days he had
only to run into the gun-room and make some cheeky remark, to be rolled
on the deck and be ragged; but even that was finished; the gun-room was
no longer like home nowadays, for the snotties were mostly strangers,
who took no notice of him if they were awake; and even if the Orphan,
Rawlins, or the Hun happened to be there, they were much too tired to
skylark.  With the Pimple, who was more often available, he did not like
skylarking, for the Pimple generally hurt him—intentionally.

So, what with one thing and another, the China Doll was not entirely
happy whilst he copied out these "silly" orders, and guns thudded from
the ships all round him—guns whose shells he could not always run up on
deck to see burst.

There was so much to see, and it was so irritating to come out all this
way to the Dardanelles, and then to find that he had to stick in a
stupid office just when some of the most exciting things were going on.
However, he could always make sure of watching a duel between the
howitzers on the Asiatic shore—somewhere behind Kum Kali fort—and the
ship told off to keep them quiet—the _Prince George_ or the _Albion_,
sometimes the _Agamemnon_.  At almost any hour of the day he went on
deck, he could make certain of soon seeing a splash leap up, close to
whichever ship was on duty, and then see her fire her 12-inch guns, and
watch till the brownish-red or black clouds flew up behind Kum Kali
ridge as the shells burst, hoping intensely that bits of "Asiatic Annie"
were flying up in it, and wondering what the spotting aeroplane,
circling high above in the blue sky like a hawk, had seen and signalled.

Then there were the shrapnel bursting behind "W" beach, and the little
shells which sometimes burst there, but, more often than not, only
buried themselves with a little spurt of dust.  He would wonder whether
Bubbles or the Lamp-post had been hit, and hoped they had not, because
they had promised to send him off a shell, or anything interesting, as a
curio.  And, later on, there were the high-explosive shells, which
sometimes burst in the air over that beach, and at other times burst on
the ground with a horrid noise which frightened him, even where he was,
in the ship, and made him rather alter his mind about going ashore to
see the fun.

The Turkish aeroplanes, or German most probably—the "Taubes" he had
heard so much of—they came often; and at the first news of "hostile
aeroplane approaching from the north-east" he would dash on deck, and
try to spot them as they appeared over the top of Achi Baba—little
moving spots which he lost sight of, if he was not very careful, until
they came nearer and nearer, and the sun made their wings glisten like
silver.  He knew that each carried bombs, and often he could actually
see these little things at the moment they were released from the body
of the aeroplane, to burst somewhere near "W" beach, raising a cloud of
dust and smoke, or drop in the sea among the ships, sending up a rather
silly splash—such a waste of energy.  And it was so "ripping" to hear
guns firing at the aeroplane and see the shrapnel bursting.  He did so
long to see one crumple up and come tumbling down, but he was always
being disappointed; and when that particular aeroplane had seen what it
wanted, dropped all its bombs—seldom where it wanted—and turned back up
the Straits, the China Doll felt rather miserable.

Sometimes British and French aeroplanes went up after the Taube, and
chased him to his home up above the Narrows, whilst the Turkish shrapnel
burst round them just as they had done at Smyrna, only making better
shooting as the days went on and their practice improved.

At first the British and French aeroplanes had their home at Tenedos;
and if they rested, slid down on the open ground close to Helles
lighthouse, flighting back to their island before dark to spend the
night.  That, too, was always "pretty to watch", as Uncle Podger would
have said.

Then the bombardments of Achi Baba and Krithia, on the days that the
troops attacked, gave him intense enjoyment; and sometimes, though not
often, the China Doll, from his post up aloft in the main-top, could
see, through the forbidden range-finder, little groups of khaki figures
darting about among the scrub and the ravines which intersected that
plain, though he could never be sure whether they were British or Turks.
But what excited him most, and kept him in some quiet corner for hours,
holding on to the rigging or a stanchion, stretching his head out in the
dark, and hardly daring to breathe, were the night attacks by the Turks.
The noise of them would wake him, and up on to the after shelter deck he
would slip, in his ragged pyjamas, and watch the glare of the
field-guns, the bursts of shrapnel-flame, the bright star-shells as they
sunk in graceful curves of dazzling white light, and would listen to the
rattle of the musketry and the Maxims, and the fierce barking of the
guns—especially of the French "75’s".

On one of these nights Mr. Meredith found his funny little figure
squeezed up against the rails, close to the life-buoy.

"Hullo, youngster!" he said cheerfully.  "Would you like to be right in
among it all—there on shore?"

"No, sir!  I mean yes, sir!  No, sir!"

"Which do you mean?" he asked.

"I don’t know, sir.  It sounds so awful."

"Well, you’d better turn in.  They’re packing up for the night now."

And so the China Doll would patter down the ladder in his bare feet,
listen for a moment at the top of the hatchway to make sure that they
had stopped fighting, and then go back to the dark half-deck and his
hammock, and lie listening until he could not keep awake any longer.

In the picket-boat and steam pinnace the Orphan, the Hun, and Rawlins
(who first relieved one and then the other) had never, all that first
week or ten days, six hours’ consecutive sleep.

Steamboats!  Why! fifty more would have found plenty to do; and of those
which were actually available, so many were constantly in the Sub’s
hands being repaired, or back on board their own ships being repaired,
that those remaining were running practically day and night
continuously.  The Hun’s pinnace smashed in her stem and stove in her
bows against a trawler on the Thursday, and that laid her up for two
whole days whilst she was being patched. On one of these two days he
took charge of a boat whose midshipman had been killed by a stray bullet
at another beach—"X" beach—round the corner, and on the second he and
the Orphan kept "watch and watch" in the picket-boat.  For all practical
purposes their only chance of a rest was when their boats ran short of
coal and water and had to go back to the _Achates_.  The job of filling
up with water and coal often took half an hour—time enough to get some
food, sometimes even a bath; more often, all they wanted was sleep.
Occasionally they had a stroke of luck after getting back to the ship,
and might be told that they would not be wanted for an hour, perhaps
longer.  Then the Orphan, Rawlins, or the Hun—whoever it was who had
such luck—would coil up on a cushion in the gun-room and sleep, or lie
down on the Sub’s bunk—if he was not there—which was more peaceful.
More often than not, something would happen: an urgent signal would come
from somewhere or other, to take a Staff officer "off" from "W" beach to
the _Arcadia_—the General Head-quarters Staff ship—-or to tow inshore a
lighter full of stores, urgently needed—bombs, barbed wire, empty
sandbags, whatever it might be; his boat might be the only one
available, and away he would have to go.

This used to happen day and night, for during those first ten days there
was no relaxation of effort whatever, all the twenty-four hours round
the clock.

Very often the Orphan had to take his boat alongside hospital ships, and
several times it happened that men climbed down their tall, white sides
and asked for a passage ashore.  One of these, on one occasion, was a
stretcher-bearer of the Worcesters, an old soldier evidently.  The air,
just about this time, was full of rumours of Turkish atrocities, and
these caused much anger until they were contradicted—as they generally
were—although the contradictions never went the rounds as did the
original rumours.  The Orphan had just heard one particular story,
vouched for, of four English—evidently prisoners—having been found burnt
to death in Sedd-el-Bahr castle.  So, thinking this man might know
something about it, he asked him.

"Know about them?  I should think I did; all nonsense, that story.  They
were burnt right enough—I saw them myself—but so was the wooden
storehouse the Turks had put them in.  Everything was burnt, and there
was the base of a 6-inch lyddite shell lying close by them; one of our
ships’ shells which had set the place on fire during the bombardment."

He told him of his own experiences.  "Why, sir," he said, "twice the
Worcesters have had to fall back a bit at night, and leave wounded
behind; and at daybreak we got back the ground again and found them all
right, though we never expected they would be alive.  ’We thought to
find you scuppered,’ we told them—at first, that was; not afterwards.  I
remember one—the Sergeant-Major of my company.  We found him in the
morning, and we asked him how he’d managed to keep clear of the Turks.
’Keep clear of ’em,’ he says; ’keep clear of ’em! why, they crept up
after you’d fallen back, found me in the dark, and gave me water; pulled
me along behind some cover—your firing being so hot—and covered me with
a blanket.’"

"Then haven’t you seen anything wrong?" the Orphan asked.

"Well, I wouldn’t exactly say that; there’s a young chap in there"—and
he pointed to the hospital ship—"what has some thirty-five bayonet
wounds—just pricks—in him.  They caught him in a trench and did handle
him pretty rough, till he pretended to be dead; then they left him.
He’ll be up and about in ten days’ time.  Then I saw two of those
Senegalese chaps see ’blue murder’ one day; but what can you expect?"

"Are our fellows playing the game?" the Orphan asked.

"You don’t know Bert Smith, he’s in my section. Well, he and I was
carrying a wounded Turk in our stretcher, he taking the head, and me
going along in front with his feet, and I notices that he starts
a-jerking his end up and down pretty violent, so I says to him: ’Here,
Bert, what are you a-doing of? you’ll hurt the poor blighter!’ and he up
and says: ’Poor blighter be darned; he’s only a blooming Turk!’"

"What did you do?" asked the Orphan, smiling at the man’s so very
transparent earnestness.

"I just told him that, Turk or no Turk, he was a-fighting for his home
and country, and it wasn’t for us to say he was doing wrong—us who was
trying to drive him out of it—and to go a-hurting of him."

"He carried him proper like after that, but of course, sir, you don’t
know Bert Smith; he’s a fair ’card’."

The Orphan, noticing that he had a blood-stained bandage round his neck,
asked him what he had been doing aboard the hospital ship.

"They sent me off," the man said indignantly. "Just had a bit of a
clip—went in in front—came out at the back—under the skin—nothing.  I
stayed aboard there a little, and then, when the doctors were too busy
to notice, I skipped into the first boat that would take me ashore, and
am off back again.  I can do all the doctoring I wants, and they’re
getting pretty short of chaps like me up there," and he jerked his thumb
Krithia way.

During these days the Orphan allowed a good many men to scramble down
from the hospital ships into his picket-boat—men slightly wounded, and
who wanted to go back to their regiments.  Many of these were
Australians and New Zealanders, a brigade of whom had been brought round
from Anzac, and had suffered extremely heavy losses in a most gallant
but unsuccessful endeavour to capture Krithia.

He often had to take his picket-boat into "W" beach when shells were
dropping on it or into the water close by; and these were times when he
had to pull himself together, so that Jarvis and the crew should not
know that he hated it; especially did he dislike the buzzing noise which
just gave him sufficient warning to make him wonder where _that_ shell
was going to hit.  He also had an extremely narrow escape one day when
he was taking a General and his Staff officers to "V" beach.  As he
approached the _River Clyde_ he saw that some big shells were dropping
close to her, and just before he reached her, swish—sh—sh came along the
noise of one and it flopped into the sea just ahead, fortunately without
bursting.  It heaved the bows of his boat right clear of the water, and
the splash that fell over them fell on the deck, the General, and on his
Staff officers. The Orphan’s breath came very fast then; but he could
not help laughing as he saw Plunky Bill, who’d been standing in the bows
with his boat-hook all ready for going alongside the _River Clyde_, turn
a complete somersault and disappear, head first, down the little hatch
there.  It was such a relief to have something to laugh at.

One day he was sent to the French flagship—she was probably the
_Suffren_—with a note to the French Admiral, and had to wait on her
quarter-deck for an answer.  The Admiral brought it up himself; a dapper
little man he was—all springs—and when he saw the Orphan standing
stiffly to attention, he darted across, laid both his thin, aristocratic
hands on his shoulders, gave him a friendly, encouraging shake, and
talked French to him, the only words the Orphan was able to understand
and remember being: "Ah, mon petit brave! mon pauvre petit garçon!"

On the way back with the answer he told Jarvis about this.  "He called
me lots of things, and he called me ’his poor little boy’—rather cheek,
wasn’t it?"  In fact, the Orphan rather thought that his dignity had
been hurt.

"A funny old bird, that ’ere Gay Pratty, sir," Jarvis said.  "D’you know
Porter—’Frenchy’ Porter, they calls him now—that ’ere leading signalman
what comed from the _Swiftsure_?  ’E was lent to that ’ere French ship
for the 18th March—when the _Bouvet_ and _Ocean_ and _Irresistible_ were
’outed’.  ’E tells me that that ’ere little ladylike gen’l’man was on
the bridge all the time, a ’opping about like a bloomin’ sparrow, and
wouldn’t go down in the conning-tower nohow.  They had shells all over
’em and all round ’em, and Frenchy Porter couldn’t ’elp ducking ’is
’ead.  Just as a big one come sloshing along—right over the bridge, it
seemed—an’ Frenchy ’ad ducked—that ’ere little box-of-tricks comes up to
’im, a-smiling and as jaunty as you please, and says to ’im, a-jerkin’
’is arms and ’is ’ands: ’When the noise come, you duck your ’ead—but
then she ’as gone—you are too late’—it ain’t no bloomin’ use, or words
to that heffect. A great, little gen’l’man, that be, sir."

After hearing this story, the Orphan was jolly glad the Admiral _had_
spoken to him.

During the days whilst the piers were being built, the weather was
magnificent and the sea quite calm. It never blew at all until the 3rd
May, when a breeze got up from the north-east and swept clouds of sand
off the ridge above "W" beach—a regular sandstorm, which hid it from the
view of the ships for several hours.  This fact is very good proof of
the enormous amount of trampling which had converted the green ridge and
gully into a waste of dry sand in only nine days.  The wind increased
all the night of the 3rd May, and blew quite hard on the 4th; and though
"W" beach gave a "lee", a very unpleasant swell swept round the end of
the Peninsula, and made the going alongside the pontoon and trestle pier
very tricky work.  Lighters empty and lighters loaded broke adrift, and
the Orphan had the job of rescuing several; and in doing so knocked his
picket-boat about a good deal, and stove a hole in her side, abreast the
engine-room, which made it absolutely necessary for her to be hoisted in
and patched.  The Commander cursed him for his carelessness, and made
the poor Orphan miserable until Captain Macfarlane happened to see him.
"A day off to-day, Mr. Orpen?" he asked, with a twinkle in his eye, for
he knew what had happened.

"I knocked a hole in the picket-boat, sir," the Orphan answered

"Only one?" the Captain said, tugging at his yellow, pointed beard.
"Only one?  Why, when I was a midshipman——  Oh!  Here comes the Admiral!
I have not time to tell you what I could do in those days in the way of
breaking up boats.  Come to my cabin and have tea with me in half an
hour."  The Orphan felt a different "man" after that.

He took the opportunity of his boat being inboard to give her a coat of
paint, which hardly had time to dry before she was hoisted out and back
again in the water.

Now all this time the Orphan had scarcely set foot on shore, because
whenever he took his picket-boat alongside one or other of the piers at
"W" beach, there was so much risk of her being damaged that he dare not
leave her.  He was as wild and harum-scarum a young officer as could be
met with, when not in his beloved picket-boat; but once he took charge
of her he never forgot that he _was_ in charge of her, and responsible
for her safety; and this not because he feared the Commander’s sharp
tongue or the displeasure of Captain Macfarlane, but from a very firm
sense of duty, which he would probably have most indignantly denied if
told that that was the reason.

"Hang it all!" he often said, when Bubbles tempted him "to just leave
your old boat and come along and see our dug-out"; "but, old Bubbles, I
can’t, that’s all, I’d love to, but I can’t."

However, virtue was rewarded, for when the _Achates_ became "bombarding"
ship, he and his picket-boat were placed under the orders of the
Beach-master at "W" beach.  Nothing could have given him greater
pleasure.  Whenever she was not actually required for duty, and could
safely anchor off the beach, he lived ashore with Bubbles and the
Lamp-post, and shared their tent, or their "dug-out" if they were being
shelled.  He had a splendid time: the best time of the three of them,
for he was away in his boat most of the day, so escaped nearly all the
heavy shells and the abominable pestilential flies; had every other
night "in"—often two or three "running"—and could wrap himself up in his
blanket and sleep splendidly, outside the tent and under the open sky,
with his picket-boat safely anchored a hundred yards off the beach, with
Jarvis in charge of her.

Probably of all the Honourable Mess, the Orphan enjoyed himself the most

                             *CHAPTER XIII*

                    *The Army comes to a Standstill*

On the day after the landing—the Monday—the French troops who had been
disembarked on the Asiatic shore and had captured 500 prisoners were
re-embarked, and the whole of the French Expeditionary Force commenced
to land on "V" beach, where the poor old _River Clyde_ lay, aground,
under the castle.

On Tuesday the whole Allied forces advanced for two miles along the
plain towards the white village of Krithia and the high ridge of Achi
Baba, which barred their way.  They met with very little resistance.

On the Wednesday a further advance was made; but at the end of the day
the Turks counter-attacked so fiercely that it became necessary for our
troops to dig themselves in, when they were yet a mile from the village.
The Allied army was now "up against" the position which the Turks had so
carefully prepared with all the ingenuity and skill their German
instructors had taught them, and, for all practical purposes, no real
further impression was made on this position during the remainder of
"The Great Adventure".

It was on the Tuesday afternoon that Bubbles and the Lamp-post first
came under shrapnel-fire.  They had obtained leave, for half an hour, to
climb up the ridge above "W" beach, and watch the progress of the
advance in the plain below them; and whilst there, the Turks began
bursting shrapnel above and all around it.  This they took all as part
of the game, and were rather pleased than otherwise when one shell,
bursting not very far above and in front of them, scattered bullets in
the ground close by.

Bubbles burst out with a loud guffaw of enjoyment, and would have
remained standing where he was—on the sky-line; but the Lamp-post, who
had a very old head on his young shoulders, made him take cover in the
Turkish trench there—a trench which our Sappers had already begun to

"It’s no use for us to be knocked out," he said; "and it’s a rotten kind
of bravery not to take cover when you aren’t doing anyone any good by
making a target of yourself."

It was on that afternoon that Captain Macfarlane, coming ashore to
stretch his long legs and to see how things were going with the beach
party, happened to find Bubbles and the Lamp-post.  The Beach-master’s
servant had just made them a cup of tea, so they, rather nervously,
asked him if he would have one.  Of course he would; so they sent the
little man away to borrow the Pink Rat’s enamelled mug. The Captain had
just walked back from the lighthouse, and along the trench up which the
midshipmen had carried those boxes of ammunition on the Sunday night.
He had heard of this, and was speaking about it when the servant came
back.  Frightened out of his life he was, the miserable-looking little
man, to wait upon so important an officer as Captain Macfarlane.  The
sight of a strange naval Captain simply terrified him, and made him
quite incoherent.

"He helped us," they said.  "He took up two by himself, and then helped
with another.  He was jolly plucky, sir!"

"You must have found them very heavy, didn’t you?" the Captain said
kindly.  "It was a very plucky thing to do, under those conditions.
What is your name?  I must remember it."

But the little man looked more frightened than ever, dropped the cup he
was carrying, opened his mouth, couldn’t speak a word, and simply fled.

Captain Macfarlane smiled and pulled his beard. "A strange thing is
courage," he said.  "It comes at times to the most unlikely people.  You
can’t legislate for it.  Now, that little chap probably deserves the
D.C.M.[#], if anybody does; and if he had it he would very likely suffer
agonies all his life, dreading lest he should have to ’live up to it’."

[#] D.C.M. = Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Before he went away, the Captain advised them to dig "dug-outs" for

"But the shrapnel hardly comes as far as the ridge," they said; "and
they tried to reach the beach this morning from the Asiatic side and
couldn’t.  We saw the shells falling three or four hundred yards
short—four of them.  Nothing but a few bullets come near here."

"Young gentlemen,"—he smiled, with that kindly, humorous expression of
his—"the Turks will bring up more guns in a few days, mark my word, and
probably advance those they have.  When they do, it won’t be only
shrapnel and small stuff, so you had better be ready."

But they thought this rather useless waste of time; they didn’t mind
what came—or thought they didn’t—and besides, the soldiers would capture
Achi Baba in a few days, and then no Turkish guns could reach them.

"We _shall_ capture that hill in a day or two, shan’t we, sir?" they
asked; but he only smiled his inscrutable smile, and added: "Young
gentlemen, take my advice."

He took them round to select a spot, but nowhere within the limits which
the Navy had pegged out as its camp was the ground anywhere steep enough
to dig a cave, which, as he told them, "was of course the best of all."
He tugged at his beard and smiled again as he looked at a very suitable
place just to the left and below the Naval Camp boundary.  "Well, you
will have to do your best—where you are: the Navy cannot poach, can
it?—not on these occasions."

So that very night, whenever they had any time to spare, they began to
dig a hole for themselves in the gentle slope on the left of the gully,
just behind where the naval mess-tent was eventually put up.  Spades
were plentiful, and they thought it great fun, although they were rather
shy of being the first to do this. However, everyone followed their
example—in fact the Beach-master ordered some form of protection to be
dug for everyone.

They scooped a place away about four feet wide, and by digging
downwards, and nibbling, and broadening it, they soon had a "funk-hole"
where all three of them could squeeze uncomfortably.  They did try, by
undermining the slope, to get some protection overhead; but the slope
was too gentle for this to be a success, and the top kept falling in,
especially if someone happened to walk near it.  No timber was as yet
available, so their "dug-out" had really no cover at all, but was simply
a deep furrow, deeper at one end than the other.

Though they did this at first for fun, and because Captain Macfarlane
had advised them to do it, they were very glad they had taken his advice
when, a few days later, the Turks did advance their field-guns and
peppered the ridge, the gully leading to it, and "W" beach itself very
liberally, not only with shrapnel, but also with common shell.  Few of
these common shell burst, and when they did, seldom hurt anyone; but no
one, however brave or however small, can stand in a place which is being
shelled, without feeling that he is the biggest thing there—for miles
round—or the most conspicuous person, however many others are round him.
The casualties from this first day of thoughtful and thorough shelling
were very slight, considering the crowded state of the area, and the
men’s principal anxiety was to obtain fragments of shells or intact
unexploded ones, digging those out before they had time to get cool.
However, the competition in making "dug-outs" certainly became much more
keen afterwards.

Neither the periods of being shelled nor the making of "dug-outs" was
allowed to interfere with the work of the beach parties.

Those men who happened to be off duty crawled into their "funk-holes",
but the others went on working; and of course, as most of them were
employed below the cliffs, they really were not—as were the soldiers’
working-parties stacking stores on the slopes—exposed the whole of the

In those first four days an enormous amount of work was done; mountains
of stores were piled on either side of the gully, mules and horses in
hundreds were landed, guns and their limbers—18-pounders, long
60-pounders, heavy guns and squat 6-inch howitzers—water carts,
transport carts, and ambulance wagons. Hundreds of light two-wheeled
carts were brought ashore, in readiness to follow the Army when the
advance, which was fated never to take place, commenced; and by the end
of the first week the slope between the ridge and the cliff, from the
end of the Peninsula to Cape Helles lighthouse, was one orderly mass of
mule and horse lines, transport "parks" and stores, and the ground which
had been so covered with grass and scrubby bushes had been worn bare, as
barren as the beach and the cliffs themselves.

Until the fifth day the beach parties had lived in the open, but on that
day several marquees and tents were brought ashore and pitched for them.
Quite a cosy little collection of white tents they made, at the bottom
of the left-hand slope of the gully.

On the Thursday and Friday very little happened. The Army was digging
itself in a mile and a half from Krithia, and about three miles from the
ridge over "W" beach; practically all guns had been landed; the whole of
the Royal Naval Division and other reinforcements had disembarked; and
several thousand wounded had been safely sent on board the hospital
ships, and transports used as hospital carriers.

On the Saturday night the Turks, at about ten o’clock, commenced a
desperate effort, first to pierce our lines (which they did,
momentarily, but only momentarily), and afterwards to drive the French
into the sea.

The Lamp-post had a night "in" that night; and when the noise of firing
woke him, was comfortably snuggled in a corner of the mess marquee,
rolled in his blanket.  The crackling of rifle-firing broke out on the
left at first, and grew so fierce and incessant that he realized this
was something quite different to anything he had heard before.

That counter-attack on the first Sunday, when he and Bubbles had helped
to take up ammunition, was as nothing compared to it, and had not made
him feel nervous—or perhaps anxious is a better word—as this did.  He
then had had something to do; but now, after a very hard day’s work, and
two spells of being shelled, he had nothing to do but lie there and
listen to the really appalling din of musketry, field-guns, and the roar
of the two 60-pounders on the end of the Peninsula, above him, which,
every time they fired, lighted up the inside of the marquee and shook
the ground beneath him.

As he lay, undecided as to whether or no he should get up and see what
was happening, the intensity of the firing grew, until it reached such a
pitch of frenzy that he felt certain that this must be the prelude to
hand-to-hand fighting.  He could not help but feel nervous.  He was not
blessed with a dull imagination, and he could not prevent himself
picturing what was happening beyond the ridge, and what _would_ happen
if the Turks drove in our thin lines and forced them back to the sea
below.  He worked himself into such a state of nerves that at last, when
the French "75’s" broke into rapid firing—one continuous screech—he
could stand it no longer, pulled on his boots, and went outside the
marquee.  Out over the Straits the sea was all a glitter of transports’
lights as usual, and the row of "flares" along the beach lighted up the
beach parties unloading boats, and the working parties wearily carrying
stores towards the two flares which marked the depots on the slopes of
the gully—all went on just as usual.  But horse teams with their limbers
were coming down from the ridge, past him, towards the ammunition
depots, at the bottom of the gully—coming down at an unaccustomed speed;
and he heard their drivers shouting impatiently for their limbers to be

He ran to one of these, who had swung round his limber and was now
trying to calm the big horse he was sitting—the "near leader" of the

"What’s going on?" the Lamp-post asked.

"They’ve broken through the 86th," the man told him; "came on without
firing a shot—the beggars!"  But the midshipman could get nothing more
out of him.

"I don’t know nothing more.  Curse this darned horse!  Keep still, can’t
you?  My job’s to get more of the stuff up to the guns.  I don’t know
nothink. Chuck it, yer blighted fools!  Ain’t yer been long enough
together?  Cawn’t yer smell who you’ve got next yer?"

The two horses were nosing each other, one trying to bite, and both

"They ain’t worked together afore," he said, as the Lamp-post, who loved
horses, separated their heads and rubbed their noses soothingly.  "I ’ad
to get a fresh ’off leader’ this morning; the other was killed just
t’other side of that ’ere ridge—shrapnel summat cruel there, all
day—cawn’t move a team but bang bursts a shrapnel—and they’ve been
bursting shrapnel now, all along the road we’ve just come and have to go
back by—curse them!  This darned fool brute—chuck it, you blighter!"—as
the horse he was sitting slyly bit the neck of the new "off leader", who
sidled and trembled—"’e cawn’t abide a stranger.  ’Ere, stop that
kicking!  ’Old yer ’eads up, cawn’t yer?"

He jerked the two horses apart as the two "wheelers" behind them began
to plunge, and their driver to curse as he steadied them.

"’Struth!  Ain’t they fair cautions?  Almost ’uman," growled the
Lamp-post’s friend.

Someone in the rear of the limber banged down the limber covers and
shouted: "Right away, Bob!"

"Stand clear!  Get up, you brutes!" and the drivers cracked their whips;
but the wheels of the limber had stuck in the sand, and the four horses,
excited and plunging, and not pulling together, could not move them.

"Clap on, you chaps!  Give us a start!" shouted the drivers; and the
Lamp-post and some more men hauled on the spokes of the wheels; the
whips cracked, and this time the horses moved the limber, and away it
went, jolting up the gully, on its way back with more shells for its
battery, somewhere in the valley.

The Lamp-post followed it up the ridge, and there, for two hours and
more, he watched the battle in the dark, hundreds of men standing near
him.  Compared to that Sunday night fight, the noise was as the inside
of a boiler-shop, with work in full swing, to the noise of a country
blacksmith’s forge; and the sight of it like a Crystal Palace firework
night, to the five or six shillings’ worth of squibs and rockets he and
his brothers used to have at home on the 5th November.

He had read of the famous French "75’s", but he had thought the
descriptions probably more picturesque than real.  Now, as he listened
to their extraordinarily determined voices, they seemed so
self-confident, so absolutely sure of themselves, that he no longer
wondered why the French almost worshipped them; and when they started
rapid fire, as they did occasionally, a whole battery, sometimes two
together, he realized that this was the glorious _rafale_ he had heard
so much about.

More empty limbers came toiling up from the valley, unable to go fast
because of the darkness, and only dashing across the area over which
shrapnel were bursting.  The drivers of these passed the word, as they
went down the gully, that the Turks had been driven back again, and the
line made good.  That was reassuring.

He heard Bubbles laughing and guffawing somewhere near, and found him.
"The Commander let me come along for half an hour.  Isn’t it a grand

Whilst they stood there, many tilted wagons passed down into the valley,
their wheels creaking and the mule chains jangling; and as those
60-pounders fired, their glare lighted up the white patches and the red
crosses painted on them.

A regiment (it had only come back from the trenches the previous
afternoon) came up the gully, the men dragging their shuffling feet
through the sand, and voices calling wearily: "Step out, men!  Don’t go
to sleep, lads!  Close up, lads!  Pull yourselves together!"  The head
of it bent over the ridge and trailed down into the valley, till, like a
long snake, it disappeared in the darkness.

When the half-hour which Bubbles had been allowed was "up", the
Lamp-post went back with him.  The Turks had evidently broken
themselves, and their attack was weakening; also, he was dead tired.  He
threw himself down in the marquee and slept till daybreak, not even
wakened by a still more furious attack delivered, later on, against the
French flank—an attack which was only repulsed after very heavy losses.

The ambulance wagons came back in the morning crammed; wounded who could
walk, stumbled down to the beach, lay down, and slept; also, a large
batch of Turkish prisoners came along with a grinning escort. That day
there was another general advance, with heavy casualties but little
progress; and on the following night the Turks attacked again, more
impetuously than the night before.  This time they threw their whole
weight against the French flank and against the section held by the
Senegalese troops, who had been very severely punished already.  These
troops are not suited for defensive night-work, and again they gave way.
The Lamp-post—on duty this time—down on the beach, could be almost
certain that they had given way, by the continuous roar of the
_rafales_, and again he could not help being anxious until news came
that all was well.

These two nights completely cured him of the nervousness which is only
natural for anyone who has had no previous experience; and though there
were countless attacks and counter-attacks in the nights to come, they
never worried him, nor, if he were asleep, was he often wakened when
those 60-pounders "chipped in" and shook the ground under him.

In the early mornings, after these nights, the tired, haggard,
earth-stained "working-parties" came back from the trenches, where they
had been fighting all night, bringing tales of creeping bombing-parties,
of furious rushes right up to their parapets, and of encounters between
their night patrols, helping back the wounded, and perhaps escorting a
few Turkish prisoners.  These tales made each night’s fighting a little
epic of its own.

To Bubbles, the Lamp-post never confided his ideas or emotions, because
that fat, joyous midshipman looked upon the whole thing as one vast
"spree", with a spice of danger that only added to its attractions.
Each wounded man who was sent off to the ships, he envied his honourable
wound, and the fact that many of them were maimed for life never entered
his mind, nor the tragedy of the women and children dependent on them.

The day after that second big counter-attack, during a bout of shelling
from some field-guns concealed below Achi Baba, a shell came into a
"dug-out" where a petty officer and two men of the beach party were
sitting, and killed all three.  After this, more spare time than ever
was spent on deepening these "dug-outs".  Then followed two more days of
desperate fighting for the capture of Krithia village, and ghastly,
never-ending streams of wounded came down the gully to the casualty
clearing-station, whose white tents had been pitched above the cliffs,
to the right of it.  Our losses were terrific, and our gains practically
nil.  As a set-off to the splendid failure of the centre, the Gurkhas
captured a commanding cliff on the left flank—Gurkha Bluff—and under
protection of fire from the _Talbot_ and _Dublin_, dug themselves in so
securely that these gallant little men never let go their hold on it.

The continual strain of those first two weeks was already beginning to
tell on the three snotties—hardly noticeable, perhaps, in the case of
Bubbles, though he was undoubtedly thinner; but the Pink Rat was one
mass of nerves—he jumped if anyone spoke to him suddenly—and he lost his
appetite.  The Lamp-post became more silent and thoughtful than before,
and his nerves, too, were very "rocky", but he had such strong control
over himself that no one could have thought that this was so.

Their clothes were stained with good honest dirt, and torn and ragged
from honest hard work.  They became such unpresentable scarecrows that
at last the Beach-master suggested that an improvement was desirable.
So they went across to the Ordnance Stores and hunted out the stock
sizes of the soldiers suits in store, which would fit them best.  They
also obtained puttees, and after those first ten days or two weeks the
only thing "naval" about them was their caps.

On the 12th May—a most perfect day it was—the three snotties were
sitting outside their tent after lunch, smoking cigarettes, and watching
an aeroplane, circling gracefully above them, looking for a good
landing-place on the cliffs, close to the lighthouse Suddenly a great,
tearing, rending noise seemed to fill all space.  Everyone dropped,
automatically, what was in his hand and bent his head; then, looking up,
saw a cloud, black and oily—a hellish-looking balloon of smoke—suspended
in the air above the ridge.

This was the first high-explosive shell which burst near "W" beach.
"Gallipoli Bill"—a stumpy 6-inch howitzer—fired it, and fired many more
that afternoon and again an hour before sunset, some of his shells
bursting on impact, others in the air—all with that rending,
awe-inspiring crash.

There was by this time, on top of the ridge, a broad sandy track, which
must have been most conspicuous from Achi Baba.  On each side of it, six
or eight hundred horses and as many mules had been picketted, and those
poor creatures suffered most.  The snotties had fled to their dug-out;
the Pink Rat lying flat on his face with his hands over his ears, whilst
the other two peered over the edge, watching where the shells dropped.
They did not—not even Bubbles—want to see them, but the terrible roar
fascinated them, and they were obliged to do so.  They would hear the
noise of another approaching, and, three or four seconds later, up would
go a cloud of black smoke and that thunderclap of an explosion—not one
farther away than three hundred yards.  "Right among the horses!" the
Lamp-post would say, with a catch in his breath; and when the smoke
drifted clear, there would they see six, a dozen—often more—of these
gallant animals lying dead, or feebly trying to regain their feet
horribly mutilated.

Other shells burst in open spaces, doing no harm; others among the mules
and transport-wagon "parks". After every explosion, men would leave
their "dug-outs" and rush to the place, a couple of stretcher-men would
perhaps dash down from the casualty clearing-station; and then the noise
of another approaching shell would send them scurrying back—scurrying
fast, all of them, except the stretcher-men, who if they had found an
injured man had to bear him slowly and steadily.

One shell, on that first day, fell right among a warren of crowded
"dug-outs", and the Lamp-post turned away his head with a shudder, so as
not to see what would come to view when the smoke cleared away.  When he
did turn round—it was so horribly fascinating—he saw men scrambling from
those "dug-outs", jostling each other in the crater just made among
them, shouting and laughing, and squabbling and searching for

Farce and tragedy are, thank God! perpetually associated; if they were
not, and only tragedy stared one continually in the face, human brains
could not endure the strain of modern warfare as they do.

Writing of "dug-outs", it did not really make much difference where one
took shelter, for those "funk-holes" gave no protection from a direct
hit, only from sideways-flying splinters and fragments; a hare crouching
on its "form" is no more protected from being trodden under foot than a
man in one of these from the actual shell itself.

All through these periods when high-explosive shells burst on the ridge
and the slopes down to the gully, the empty limbers, water-carts, and
transport wagons would jolt down to the depots, fill up, and go back
again, up the slopes through the area where those shells were falling,
up that broad road between those huddled masses of quivering mules and
horses, just as though nothing unusual was happening.

"Gallipoli Bill" at first fired for half an hour in the middle of the
day, and again for another half an hour before the close of it; but
presently, when he had received a more plentiful supply of ammunition,
often gave an additional "hate" in the forenoon.

The one thing in his favour, as compared to the field-guns, was that
after he had fired his ten or twelve rounds, you knew he would not fire
again for several hours.  With the field-guns it was different—their
little shells fell at all hours and all through the day.

To add to the attractiveness of "W" beach—or "Lancashire Landing", as it
was afterwards called—as a health resort, hostile aeroplanes often
dropped bombs there.  Nobody attempted to take cover when these
aeroplanes flew past, for the simple reason that no "cover" existed,
except actually underneath the very foot of the cliffs.  They had to
carry on their work, wait until they heard the rushing noise of the
bomb, and when the explosion followed, wait for the second one which
almost invariably followed it.  Afterwards they knew that this "show"
was concluded, and that "Cuthbert", as they called the aeroplane, would
not drop any more on that trip.  "Cuthbert’s" average "bag" in three
days would seldom exceed two men wounded and one killed, and perhaps
three or four horses or mules killed, or so much injured that they had
to be shot.  Generally, at about seven o’clock in the morning the first
aeroplane would come, on its way to wake the General Head-quarters Staff
aboard the _Arcadia_, anchored close by; and then occasionally in the
evening, when he was off to see if he really couldn’t—this time—manage
to flop a bomb on top of the captive balloon or its parent ship.

This last was one of the pleasures of the day, and the Lamp-post and
Bubbles would often sit and watch "Cuthbert" flying towards the big
yellow balloon—flying well above it to keep out of range.

The parent ship would haul the balloon down just as fast as she
could—"to lessen the bump if it was hit", as Bubbles used to gurgle.
Then the Lamp-post, through his glasses, would see first one, then
another bomb drop from the aeroplane; would shout: "He’s dropped
one—two!" and in a few seconds, whilst they held their breath and
watched, up would go the splashes these explosions made.  Never did they
hit either balloon or parent ship.  It really became a perfect farce;
though, as Uncle Podger told them, when one day, coming ashore to pay
the beach party, a small shell had buried itself quite close to him and
his money-bags, and a bomb had dropped and burst not fifty yards away:
"It’s all very pretty to watch, but I prefer watching it from the ship."

Directly it became evident that "Gallipoli Bill" had come to stay, all
those horses and mules were brought down and placed in safety beneath
the cliffs, and along ledges which the Turkish prisoners and a large
number of imported Greek labourers cut for them in the face of the

When they were all safely stowed away, the end of the Peninsula
presented a most extraordinary sight, and if only the crippled _Goeben_
could have come out and had half an hour’s practice, she would have
killed them all.  Magazines also were dug beneath the cliffs, and the
vast stores of small-arm ammunition, shells, charges, bombs, grenades,
and explosives of all sorts were placed out of danger.

Water, or rather the scarcity of it, made life still more unpleasant;
water for drinking was sufficient, but had to be used carefully; the
amount allowed for washing was entirely inadequate.  However, whenever
the snotties had the chance, they would scramble along to the rocks
right at the end of the Peninsula, under Cape Tekke, and have a bathe.

Many a grand hour they put in down there, and forgot, for a time, the
discomforts and perils of the day which had passed, or of the days which
were to come.

But now, worse than the bombs, the field-guns’ shells, or those roaring,
rending high-explosives, came the flies.  A fortnight after the landing
they had been a nuisance; at the end of the third week, bred in the
horse and mule lines, they became an unbearable plague.  The food on
one’s plate was covered with them, they crawled over it; they crawled
over hands and faces; rest during the day was almost impossible.  It was
horrid to see a man asleep, with his lips, nostrils, and eyelids hidden
in a dense mass of them, clinging there and sucking the moisture. At
night, and only at night, was one free from these beastly things, and
then they gathered in countless millions on the upper parts of the
insides of the tents, waiting till the warmth of next day’s sun woke
them to start their intolerable persecution.

The mental torture caused by these was infinitely greater than the total
effect of the shells and bombs; worst of all, they brought dysentery.

The Pink Rat was the first one to go down.  He had worked hard and well,
but the strain of the shells had, very evidently, upset his nerves; he
had been moody and depressed for some days, and the flies finished him.
He had to be sent on board to Dr. O’Neill, thinner, and more like a rat
than ever.  He was quickly followed by six or seven of the men; but
Bubbles and the Lamp-post, though both were affected by a mild form of
dysentery—as was practically everyone—and their hands were covered with
small "chipped-out" bits which would not heal, "stuck it out" until
they, and all who remained of the original beach party, were replaced by
officers and men from the sunken _Ocean_ and _Irresistible_.

The same day on which the Pink Rat left them, the Orphan joined the
little naval camp at the foot of the gully, with its marquees and tents,
and boundaries marked neatly with white-washed stones.

"My aunt!  Isn’t this splendid?" he said, as Plunky Bill gave him a hand
up the beach with his uniform tin case.

His coming was a great event, just what the other two snotties required
to cheer them up.  There was so much to show him, and so much to do when
all three happened to be off duty—the bathes among the rocks at the foot
of Cape Tekke, the 60-pounders above it to show him, the trenches down
in the plain, the trench up which they had carried ammunition, the big
Turkish guns on Hill 138; and one afternoon they all three had time to
walk across to "V" beach, and wander about the neat, orderly French
camp, ingratiate themselves with the sentries to let them pass forbidden
places, and to look over the old castle itself.  The Orphan proudly took
them to the "front door", as his friend the Royal Naval Division
Sub-lieutenant had called the great arched entrance, and explained to
them how he had fired at the Turks coming through it, with a maxim, and
started a battle "on his own", pointing to the bows of the _River Clyde_
to show where he and his maxim actually had been.

"You _do_ come in for all the tit-bits; you are a lucky chap!" Bubbles
gurgled excitedly.

The late afternoon was not the most pleasant time to choose for such an
excursion, because "V" beach was seldom "healthy" at that time of day,
and proved to be more than usually "unhealthy" on this particular
occasion, for "Asiatic Annie" plumped fourteen or fifteen big 8-inch
shells among the stores and the camps whilst they were there.

They all took shelter behind a small mountain of corned-meat
packing-cases, in company with a couple of gaily dressed, shiny-black
Senegalese, who were not in the least happy, and a young, equally
gaudily dressed "Foreign Legion" soldier, who was quite happy—a slim,
sunburnt, laughing man in a red fez with a long tassel, a grey-blue
embroidered Zouave jacket, a blue sash, and baggy scarlet trousers.  One
shell came very near them, and burst with a terrific crash on the other
side of the packing-cases, blowing in two or three, so that the
meat-tins showed through the cracks, but only covering the three
midshipmen with dust.  This was the first high-explosive shell which had
burst near the Orphan, and he did not like it a little bit.  Bubbles and
the Lamp-post, who had had more experience of them, liked it still less;
but the Zouave only smiled: "Mon Dieu! le méchant! le miseréble!" and
offered them little twisted cigarettes of black tobacco.  They were not
in the least miserable when a long pause ensued after one shell, and a
bugle sounded to tell everyone that "Asiatic Annie" had "packed up", and
they were able to leave the protection of their tinned-meat

On the afternoon when the first German submarine arrived, and sent the
old _Achates_ flying to Mudros in the scurry of transports and
store-ships, they watched her go without any real regrets.  The Orphan
and Bubbles certainly preferred to stay where they were; and though,
perhaps, the Lamp-post, at the bottom of his heart, longed to get away
from the flies and shells, they could never get him to admit it.

Then, three days later, the _Triumph_ was sunk—along the coast, off
Anzac—and all the battleships left Cape Helles; all except the old
_Majestic_, who came along and anchored so close to "W" beach that you
could almost throw a stone on board her from the casualty
clearing-station tents on top of the cliffs.

"They won’t ’get’ her there, not with all those trawlers and little
steamers round her," Bubbles said. But on Friday morning, just as they
were turning to work, and the Orphan was "standing by" in his
picket-boat to "run an errand", they heard a rumbling explosion, looked
round, saw a huge column of water spout up alongside her, close to her
after bridge, and heard and felt another explosion.

"They’ve got her!" everyone sang out as she began to turn over very
rapidly; and the Orphan, shouting to Plunky Bill to shove off, dashed
towards her to pick up men already jumping from her sloping deck into
the sea.  She heeled over so extraordinarily rapidly that the Orphan
never had a chance of going alongside, but stood off, and with other
steamboats, with trawlers, drifters, a French torpedo-boat, and any
number of other boats of all descriptions, made a ring round the doomed
ship, to which her crew swam. The Orphan pushed his boat so close that
he had to back out to prevent her fore mast-head and "wireless" gear
fouling him as it heeled down to the water’s edge. It was a horrid and
sad sight; but the Orphan was too busily engaged pulling people out of
the water to pay much attention to that; and when his picket-boat could
hold no more, he turned them over to a small coasting steamer anchored
near, and went back again.  By this time she was bottom up.

The sinking of this ship had a most depressing effect on everyone; and
even the casual Orphan and thoughtless Bubbles wondered what "Gallipoli
Bill" would do, now that there was no ship left with guns big enough to
annoy him.  However, that elusive howitzer had evidently very little
ammunition to spare—probably one of our "E" submarines in the Sea of
Marmora had sunk a steamer with a supply she was expecting—so six
shells, twice a day, were as much as he could allow himself.

You will notice that no mention is now made of the small shells.  They
still fell on "W" beach and in the sea, close to the piers, at all hours
of the day; but unless they came in numbers, no one took any notice of
them.  Their fuses were so poor that they seldom burst, and when they
did, they seldom did any harm.

The three midshipmen’s time ashore was now drawing to a close, and four
days after the _Majestic_ had been sunk—how they did wish her ram
wouldn’t stick out of the water and remind them of her!—a signalman
brought down a signal: "Officers and men of _Achates_ beach party will
embark in Trawler 370 at 11.30 to-day.  Trawler will take _Achates_
picket-boat in tow."

It was not until they had embarked, and the Orphan had made "fast" a
hundred feet of rope from his picket-boat to the trawler’s stern, that
they learnt that the _Achates_ had been sent to Mytilene, and that they
were to join her there.

They waved good-bye to "W" beach just as "Gallipoli Bill" dropped a big
shell half-way down the gully, and the Lamp-post and Bubbles realized
the relief of not having to wonder where the next one would come.

"Well, we’ve had a jolly good time—take it all round—but for the flies,"
Bubbles said.  "It will be a good thing to get back to the ship for a

"Won’t we have a bath, and won’t it be grand to get into uniform—clean
uniform and under-things again!" said the Lamp-post; and Bubbles
gurgled: "Won’t I have a grand feed!" forgetting what the Orphan had
told him of the state of the gun-room stores.

                             *CHAPTER XIV*

                          *Submarines Appear*

Down in the gun-room of the _Achates_, during this month after the
landing, the air was full of rumours—buzzes of all sorts and little
"titbits" of information, gleaned haphazard everywhere and anywhere.
Every snotty—the Orphan, the Hun, Rawlins, or any of the "stranger"
midshipmen—who took his boat alongside a transport or man-of-war, or to
one of the piers at "W" or "V" beaches, came back stuffed with yarns
which lost nothing by the telling: the Dublins had lost every officer;
the Worcesters all but two; the Turks were torturing prisoners; there
was a fearful shortage of doctors; the beaches were simply crowded with
wounded, and there was nowhere to put them; Krithia had fallen—the yarn
spread after every attack; the _Prince George_ had a huge hole made in
her by one of "Asiatic Annie’s" 8-in shells; the poor old _River Clyde_
would have to be abandoned—she was being hit so often; the _Goeben_ and
two Turkish battleships were just above The Narrows—the aeroplane had
seen them—and they might come down at any moment; the _Agamemnon_ had
knocked out three "Asiatic Annies" in one afternoon; the _Queen
Elizabeth_ had fired three of her big 15-inch shells across the
Peninsula—the first had sunk two big lighters filled with ammunition,
the second had dropped short and only wiped out a regiment on the march,
and the third had sunk a nine-thousand-ton steamer, anchored above
Nagara, crowded with troops, none of whom was saved.  The Pimple, who
brought this last piece of news, knew it was true, because the Navigator
had heard it from a man, who had heard it from the friend of a man, who
had been told by the "observing" officer in the captive balloon which
"spotted" for the _Queen Elisabeth_.

Then there was the constant rumour that "last night’s counter-attack by
the Turks was just their last final effort; they were going to make
peace now it had failed".  Poor old Turks! they had nothing to gain by
being so obstinate, and they had no food and were short of
ammunition—everything; they were simply longing to "throw up the sponge"
if only the Germans would let them.

Russia intended landing five hundred thousand troops quite close to
Constantinople; Italy was about to declare war and send fifty thousand
to help in the Peninsula; the French had a hundred thousand already on
the way; and Kitchener, good old Kitchener, had made up his mind to send
out two hundred thousand. Shan’t we walk through them?

Another snotty would burst in with the news that he had heard, on good
authority, that directly all the mines had been swept up, the ships were
to make another dash up The Narrows, this time towing pontoon "things"
alongside them to stop torpedoes. Another heard that all destroyers had
been ordered to rush through one night, steam up the Sea of Marmora, and
bombard Constantinople.

There was no limit to the inventive genius of the "rumour spreaders",
and the appetite for fresh, spicy news became so keen that anybody who
brought back no titbit was thought a "hopeless rotter".

But one day, on the 12th May, Uncle Podger came into the gun-room with a
long face: "Two German submarines have been reported passing Malta," he
said.  This yarn was too incredible to be believed by the young warriors
coiled there, on the cushions, in their dirty Condy’s-fluid-stained
clothes; and they greeted it with such derisive yells, shouting, "Go
away and make up something else, Fatty!" that Uncle Podger, who did not
appreciate any such familiarity from strangers, did not bother to tell
them that it happened to be the simple truth.  This was the first day on
which it became generally known that German submarines were approaching;
and the certain fact caused much consternation to all, especially to
those who had previously buoyed themselves with the hope that these
craft could not make such a long voyage in time of war.

A very general feeling of uneasiness made itself felt.

That same day the first high-explosive to burst on "W" beach had brought
everyone on deck, drawn there by the sound of its mighty thunder-clap;
and sent them down again wondering whether it would be possible to hold
"W" beach under such conditions much longer.  The most optimistic looked
grave, and even the cheery, irresponsible Navigator realized that this
was not the occasion to invent yarns and send them rolling.

Discussion in the ward-room that night was carried on fitfully and in
low tones, and whenever the door opened everyone would turn to see if
the newcomer’s face showed that he had heard anything "fresh".  Among
all brooded a very pervading feeling of depression.  The tall,
aristocratic, and also pessimistic Major of Marines explained in a low
voice to the anxious little Padre, sucking nervously at his big pipe,
the terrible anxieties of a General whose army has no secure base and
whose lines of communication—in this special case, the sea—are
threatened; the Navigator, on the other side, pointed out to the
Fleet-Paymaster how impossible it would be for the battleships to stay
where they were, when the submarines did put in an appearance.  The
cheery Fleet-Paymaster kept on saying: "But, my dear chap, we’ve got
plenty of destroyers and trawlers; they ought to keep them away at
night-time, and surely we can look after ourselves in the daylight."

The Fleet-Surgeon, more gloomy and querulous than ever, growled: "What
the dickens d’you know about it?  They’ll come right enough.  We’re just
like sheep waiting for the little dog that’s coming across the field to
worry them; they pretend they’ll stick together and show a bold front,
and know all the time they’ll be off like redshanks directly he gets
near.  We’re rats in a trap, that’s what we are."  He seemed to obtain
great satisfaction from the last idea.

The Gunnery-Lieutenant, stamping nervously from one end of the ward-room
to the other, joined in all the conversations, and kept on bursting out
with: "We must have a ’go’ at that high-explosive chap to-morrow, and
try and knock him out before they come;" they being, of course, the

The War Baby—that youngest thing in subalterns of Royal Marines—sprawled
over the ward-room table, with his chin on his fists, anxiously
listening to everybody, hoping to glean something or other which would
point a way out of the difficulties and comfort him.  The Commander,
coming down from making certain that the ship had been darkened
properly, snapped out: "I can’t get those transports to ’darken ship’.
The Admiral has ordered everything, big or little, not to show a single
light; and there they are, many of them, showing a blaze of lights as
bright as the Strand by night."  He rang the bell and sent the sentry to
find Mr. Orpen.  Presently that young officer appeared, and was ordered
"to go round every ship in that darned anchorage and make ’em put out
their lights—and don’t let me catch any of your boat’s crew smoking
alongside the ship, as they were this morning, or I’ll——"  But the
Orphan didn’t wait for the penalty to be mentioned, answered "Very good,
sir," exchanged undetected winks with the War Baby, and went out again.

Everybody turned in, that night, with their thoughts full of submarines.

An hour after midnight the poor old _Goliath_ was struck by three
torpedoes, and sank.  She had anchored only that afternoon, up beyond
Sedd-el-Bahr and opposite a promontory known as "De Tott’s Battery" to
protect the left flank of the French army and she lay farther up the
Straits and nearer to Chanak Fort—the big fort at the entrance to The
Narrows—than any other ship.  Beyond this fort a Turkish destroyer was
known to be lying, just above The Narrows; and to prevent her making a
sortie, four of our destroyers patrolled the waters between Chanak Fort
and De Tott’s Battery, dodging a very brilliant search-light on Chanak
Fort which lighted up this area night after night.

Now the previous evening, just before sunset, a heavy and most unusual
bank of fog had rolled slowly out of The Narrows, and made the night so
dark that the look-outs on board the patrolling destroyers and on board
the _Goliath_ could hardly see a cable’s length in front of them.  It
was just the night that that Turkish destroyer would be waiting for; and
when Chanak search-light was not switched on at all, and the Straits
were shrouded in thick, ominous darkness, the _Goliath’s_ people had a
suspicion that "something" would happen, and kept a more ready

Shortly after one o’clock the "look-outs" on her bridge, and round the
guns on the fore shelter-deck, sighted a dark mass on her starboard bow,
and made it out to be a destroyer, drifting, stern first, with the
current, towards the ship, just as our own patrolling destroyers had
been accustomed to do.  They used to steam towards Chanak and its
search-light, stop engines, and drift back with the current which always
flowed down through The Narrows, drift down until they were abreast De
Tott’s Battery, and then steam back again.

At first she was thought to be a British destroyer, but something roused
suspicions, the "challenge" was flashed across; she flashed back, but
incorrectly; and, realizing that she was an enemy, orders were given to
open fire on her.  Two shots blazed out, but they were too late; she let
fly three torpedoes, one after the other, all of which struck "home";
and in four minutes the _Goliath_ had rolled over, taking down with her
more than five hundred of her officers and men.

Those on deck in the _Achates_ had heard the muffled explosions, and
seen the search-lights from the other battleships above Sedd-el-Bahr
searching the surface of the water there; but not for some time did
anyone know what had really happened—not until a signal flashed across
to say that the _Goliath_ had been sunk, and to ask for steamboats to be
sent to search for survivors.

The Orphan, who had only just returned from his long job of making all
the obstinate transports and other ships "darken ship" properly, was
immediately sent up to the scene of the catastrophe, and the Hun, with
his steam pinnace, followed.  They picked up and brought back one dead
body and a mere handful of very much shaken men.  As you know, everyone
had turned in that night with "submarines on the brain"; so when Dr.
Gordon went to the Fleet-Surgeon’s cabin and woke him with "Get up, turn
out, P.M.O., the _Goliath_ has been sunk, and our boats have gone for
survivors!" you can imagine that the Fleet-Surgeon naturally thought
that a submarine had done this, so was none too happy.  "It’ll be our
turn next; rats in a trap!  My God!  I wish I’d never come to sea," he
kept groaning as he slipped into his clothes, found his
swimming-belt,[#] and hurried on deck.

[#] By this time the swimming-collars had been replaced by belts with
greatly increased buoyancy.

The news, when it came at last, that she had been sunk by a destroyer
came almost as a relief, because, in spite of the official signal to the
contrary, everyone hoped, down at the back of his brain, that perhaps a
mistake had been made, and that those submarines reported from Malta
would turn out to be a myth.

In fact, next morning at breakfast, the Torpedo-Lieutenant was quite
bright and cheery.  He was a destroyer expert, and always pooh-poohed
submarines as much overrated craft, so now never tired of saying
"Destroyers are some good after all, you see," and seemed to take as
much pride in the success of the Turkish destroyer, as if it had been an
English one which had sunk a Turkish battleship.

Without a doubt, everyone admired the pluck and cunning of this
destroyer and its German crew (it was known afterwards that the crew was
German), however much—or little—the loss of the _Goliath_ affected him;
and, truth to tell, it was not the loss of the ship nor of the men that
affected most people, but the moral effect and the addition to the
general feeling of depression and uneasiness—uneasiness which, it must
be remembered, was not by any means chiefly caused by fear for the
actual safety of the ships and themselves, but by the dread of what
would happen to the Army when left unsupported in its very insecure
position on the Peninsula, with the difficulties of supplying itself
with stores and reinforcements so enormously increased.  Those
howitzers, too, might render the position untenable, especially as,
given time, there was no reason why the Turks should not bring up more
and still heavier guns.

Some of the surviving officers lived on board the _Achates_ for a few
days, and slept in hammocks on the half-deck, close to the China Doll.
He will never forget those nights when he turned in—always nervous of
submarines, and with his swimming-belt all ready round his chest, in
case of need—and then had to listen to them relating their gruesome
experiences before and after the old ship rolled over and they had
jumped into the water.  They were suffering the after effects of their
shock, and could talk of nothing else all day long, and most of the
night as well.

The China Doll would hear, out of the dark, coming from one of them:
"You remember when that second explosion came—you were standing close to
me—in the battery—the one that shot up that column of water which cut
the cutter in half—you remember—it fell on old Tompkins—it was old
Tompkins, wasn’t it?—it crushed him—don’t you remember him howling?—just
for a second—and then, not answering when you sung out to him."

Another voice—a big, gruff one—would "chip in": "I’d just said to the
Gunner, ’That’s not one of our destroyers—look at her funnels—you mark
my word—that’s not one of ours’—just before we fired that first shot—it
didn’t hit—I swear I heard a torpedo fired—the first one—the one that
hit us under the bridge—and I’m certain I heard someone sing out: ’Gut!
sehr gut!’—he must have been a German—he sang it out after each torpedo
hit us."

Another voice out of the darkness, from a hammock close to the China
Doll, broke in with: "My word! she did topple over—I could never have
believed it I was in my cabin—just had time to rush up to the
gangway—the water was pouring over the coaming—couldn’t stand on the
quarter-deck—I don’t know how I got to the rails—I dragged myself up
somehow, and crawled right round her—oh, my God! the cries inside
her—men who couldn’t get out."

The big, gruff voice, which had stopped to listen, interrupted again: "I
got out through a gun-port, crawled along the side—when she turned over
the bilge keel caught me and dragged me under—I never knew how I came up
again—a man close to me—swimming in the water—had his face smashed in by
a plank which shot up from below—I got hold of the plank—it kept me up
till the _Lord Nelson’s_ picket-boat found me."

It was not as if these disjointed remarks were made only once, but they
were repeated over and over again; just as if the thoughts they
expressed had been fixed so indelibly in their brains, to the exclusion
of everything else, that when night and darkness came they were again so
vivid that they had to be given utterance to.

The poor China Doll, with his swimming-belt round his chest, would
listen, with hair on end, until he could stand it no longer; then he
would jump out, and run up on deck and wait, perhaps for an hour, until
they were silent.  How grateful he was to wake up and see daylight
coming through the gaps in the hatchway awning-cover, and to know that
another night was over!  A good many more were as thankful as he was.

Next day the early morning "air" reconnaissance—made by
aeroplane—reported having seen five submarines travelling past Kephez

"That puts the hat on it," moaned the Fleet-Surgeon when he heard of
them; and everybody marvelled how they had managed to elude the scouting
trawlers and destroyers.  But most people felt a sense of relief that
the days of waiting for their coming were now over, and that whatever
was going to happen would do so soon.  However, the evening "air
reconnaissance" reported that these five submarines were still there,
but had now turned out to be buoys which we ourselves had moored—so the
grim tension was relieved for a little while.

On that day "Gallipoli Bill" burst very many high-explosive shells on
"W" beach, apparently chiefly out of bravado, to express his glee at the
sinking of the _Goliath_.  Next day the _Agamemnon_, the _Swiftsure_,
and the heavy batteries on shore "went" for him, but could not hit him.
The "spotting" aeroplanes did their best to locate him and to direct the
firing; but a dummy gun is so easily put somewhere, where it can be seen
from above, and a real gun can so easily be shifted and hidden, where it
cannot be seen, that quite possibly the ships and the shore batteries
were never firing at the real gun.  At any rate, directly they ceased
fire, "Gallipoli Bill" threw half a dozen more shells along the ridge
above "W" beach, and "pulled their legs" pretty thoroughly.

Things went on quietly for the next two or three days, although the
howitzers did a lot of mischief on shore.  Rumours came that a trawler
had sighted a periscope off Imbros island, thirteen miles away, and it
seemed definitely ascertained that two submarines had arrived at Smyrna.

On the 18th May the _Achates_ relieved the _Swiftsure_, and from this
date, until driven away by submarines, she became a "bombarding" ship.
She once more ceased to fly a flag; the Admiral left her, taking with
him his two Assistant Clerks; best of all, the devouring host of strange
snotties and their steamboats also departed, and quietness and peace
reigned in the gun-room.  But, like Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard, the
gun-room store was bare—a fact which brought bitter grief to the Pimple
and the China Doll.

There was another submarine scare that night.  A trawler fired two
Very’s lights, which meant "have sighted a hostile submarine", and
things "hummed" considerably until it turned out that she had mistaken
E11, on her way up the Straits, from Mudros, for an enemy submarine.

Also, during that same night the Turks commenced their desperate
thirty-six-hour attack on Anzac, and for all that period an almost
incessant roar of heavy guns came down wind from there.  This attack
ended most disastrously for the enemy, who lost more than three thousand
men killed.  The Honourable Mess heard afterwards many yarns of this
fight—yarns of the Turks pressing through gullies against the Australian
and New Zealand trenches, pouring through in dense masses, shouting
"Allah!  Allah!" and never ceasing that cry, because they believed that
no bullet would touch them with the sacred name on their lips, and being
shot down in hundreds and hundreds, until, in fact, some of the
Australians, who had clambered on top of their parapets the better to
shoot, refused to shoot any longer.  Pressed along by the masses behind
them, the front ranks could not retreat—some, throwing away their
rifles, ran towards the trenches with their hands above their heads,
apparently demented, shouting "Allah!  Allah!"

Perhaps they thought that God would give them victory over the "infidel"
with their bare hands; perhaps they wanted to surrender; but none
reached those trenches.  In front of one maxim alone, 380 dead were
counted when at last the attacks had melted away, and the Turks had
obtained an armistice to bury their dead.

Now that she was "bombarding" ship, the _Achates_ had the job of looking
after "Gallipoli Bill", and often an aeroplane would fly up to "spot"
for her whilst she tried to knock him out.

Such a day’s firing would be arranged and start something like this.

Perhaps Captain Macfarlane had been ashore the afternoon before, to
stretch his long legs, and on coming back to the ship would send for the
Gunnery-Lieutenant.  "Oh, look here, I’ve been ashore this afternoon.
That 6-inch howitzer is bothering everyone a good deal; it dropped one
near me—it may not have known I was there—but I thought it distinctly
rude; the Left Flank Observation Post—I was up there this
afternoon—think they have spotted him—just to the left of that single
tree near the windmills—you know it—the place where those dummy
field-guns used to be; how about having a try for it in the morning?"

"Yes, sir!  Certainly, sir!  We had better ask for an aeroplane, I
suppose," the very "strict-service" Gunnery-Lieutenant would suggest.

"Certainly!  Certainly!  Ask them to send a specially nice one this
time, perhaps a white one with blue spots would look pretty."

The Gunnery-Lieutenant, who was absolutely devoid of all sense of
humour, would look up startled, only to see the Captain thoughtfully
tugging at his pointed yellow beard.

"I don’t think there are any like that, sir.  They have tried various
colours, but none are invisible. I think they have none like that, sir."

"Oh!  Very well, we must just take our chance. Perhaps they will send us
one with pretty red, white, and blue rings," the Captain would reply
gravely, without a tremor of an eyelid; and off would go the bewildered
Gunnery-Lieutenant to write out a signal "requesting permission to
bombard Target 159G7", or whatever was the dot on the military map
nearest to "Gallipoli Bill", and wonder whether Captain Macfarlane was
going "off his head".  Whilst waiting a reply from the Admiral, he might
run across the Fleet-Surgeon and tell him what the Captain had said.  "I
suppose there’s nothing the matter with him, Doc.?  You don’t think the
strain is telling on him?"

"Nothing the matter with him!  Of course not," would snap Dr. O’Neill.
"It’s yourself, you fool; your silly noddle’s so stuffed with wretched
gunnery, you haven’t room for a joke.  He was pulling your leg."

"But where’s the joke about ’white with blue spots’—I’ve never seen one
like that?" and the Gunnery-Lieutenant would scratch his head.

"Oh! get out of it; you’re hopeless!" Dr. O’Neill would growl.

Presently the signal would come that the proposed bombarding had been
approved by the Admiral, who would make arrangements for a "spotting"
aeroplane at ten o’clock.

Thus were details fixed for another attempt to destroy "Bill".

In the morning the Gunnery-Lieutenant waited to see how the current, or
the breeze, or both together, made the ship swing.  Perhaps that
especial morning she swung with her stern inshore, so that "X" group of
6-inch guns—the group on the starboard side, aft—bore most easily.  So,
after breakfast, the Gunnery-Lieutenant sent for the War Baby—in charge
of these guns—and showed him the exact spot on the map and, taking him
up into the main-top, the special tree close to which "Bill" had last
been seen—the tree on which he had to train his guns.

The aeroplane with its pilot, the "observer" and his wireless apparatus,
started away from the "advanced" aerodrome near Helles lighthouse,
commenced to climb up into the "blue", and, when ready, signalled "Ready
to Commence".

By this time the Gunnery-Lieutenant in the fore-top, the Captain on the
bridge, the War Baby in the sighting hood of X1, and the guns’ crews in
X1 and X2 beneath it, just abaft the gun-room, were all ready and
waiting.  "Ranging shot at eight—five—o—o, common shell," the
Gunnery-Lieutenant sang down through his voice-pipe; and watched, as X1
fired, away along to the right of Krithia, between the last of the
windmills and that single tree, where he hoped that the aeroplane could
see "Bill", although he could not do so himself.  Up went the
cloud-burst, and in perhaps fifty seconds the voice-pipe from the
"wireless" room called "Short 200"—the signal that had just come from
the aeroplane.

Frequently, on these occasions, the enemy "wireless" stations would
"block" the "wireless" signals from the aeroplane, or make "spotting"
signals of their own, to confuse the annoyed Gunnery-Lieutenant. Always
if the aeroplane ventured too near "Bill", the Turks burst shrapnel
round her.

Sights were corrected, and another shot fired; out of the "blue" came
the signal "Right, one hundred and fifty yards".  That meant altering
the training or, if the gun was kept on that single tree all the time,
altering the deflection scale on the sight.

And so, for perhaps twenty rounds, firing went on. "Bill", wherever he
was, had never spoken a word; the aeroplane signalled "O.K.", the
interpretation of which being that, as far as she could see, the last
shell had made a direct hit; and presently the Gunnery-Lieutenant, who
generally had the idea that the aeroplane "spotter" didn’t know his left
hand from his right, or "overs" from "shorts", and also was as blind as
any bat, thought it was about time to finish, and would climb down and
ask the Captain if he should "pack-up".

The War Baby’s guns’ crews were then ordered to secure and "sponge out"
their guns, and a searchlight signal was made to the aeroplane that the
firing was finished.  Down she would circle to her aerodrome, and if she
had anything exciting to tell, would signal it across from the Naval
Signal Station close at hand.

After such a proceeding it often happened that, almost before the
aeroplane had come down to land, "Bill" would plump three or four
high-explosive shells on "W" beach or in the soldiers’ "rest" camp.  He
was a facetious fellow, very wanting in tact, and most elusive.

To understand the difficulties of hitting him, you must try and imagine
yourself on the deck of an ordinary steamer, standing somewhere about
twenty feet above the level of the water.  The distance of the sea
horizon is then just a little over five miles.  If you now imagine that,
instead of a continuous, uninterrupted curved line, the curve of the
horizon is broken up by small gullies and ravines and depressions, in
any one of which "Gallipoli Bill" may be concealed—in fact, _is_
absolutely hidden from you—and all you know is that he is supposed to be
in line with, perhaps, a particular tree which you can see; that up
above, there is an aeroplane quite possibly "spotting" on a dummy gun,
and that only a direct hit will destroy "Bill", you obtain a good idea
of the difficulties of hitting him from where you are—standing in your

One day, in order to reduce the range, the _Achates_ anchored in another
billet, off "X" beach, farther along the "outside" coast of the
Peninsula, and had hardly dropped her anchor before a cheeky battery of
4.1-inch guns began dropping their shells all round her.  It was
impossible to locate the battery, and there was no option but to shove
off again, out of range. Again, you must bear in mind that the flashes
these guns make when fired are very slight, and quite momentary, also
that dummy flashes were also fired some distance away.  The only sure
proof that the actual position of the firing gun had been located was by
observing the cloud of dust blown up from the ground in front of the
gun.  The size and density of this depends naturally upon the kind of
ground, and also, of course, a position behind ground thickly covered
with bushes is generally chosen to reduce the dust to a minimum; so
that, at a range of five miles, what dust is thrown up is very, very
seldom visible.

In the course of the campaign many of the Turks’ guns were knocked out
by the ships; but every shell must fall somewhere, and if you fire a
sufficient number, sooner or later a lucky one may do the "trick" and
fall on the exact spot required.

But a ship’s magazines are not inexhaustible; with very little effort
she could empty them in an hour, and be as useless as a Thames barge
until they were refilled.  If there had been an inexhaustible supply in
the ammunition ships at Mudros, and if a ship had made full use of it,
she would have worn out her guns in next to no time; accurate firing
would be impossible, and the ship again practically useless.

Knowing all these things, you should now be able to realize the
extraordinary difficulties of hitting a single gun from ships at those
necessarily long ranges, and be able to understand their comparative
failure to do so.

To return to the submarines.  It was on a Saturday, the 22nd May, that
the first German submarine actually made its appearance off the
Peninsula.  Just as the Honourable Mess had finished their meagre lunch,
a signalman brought the Sub a signal, just received from the _Triumph_,
at anchor off Anzac.  The Sub read it aloud: "Hostile submarine sighted
N.E. of Gaba Tepe".

"Well, it’s a good thing to get the show over," the Sub said; and Uncle
Podger remarked that "At any rate it will be pretty to watch."  They all
went on deck; and the sight of a long line of transports, store ships,
and hospital ships hurrying across from Anzac to the little protected
harbour of Kephalo, in the island of Imbros, made it certain that they
evidently did not doubt that a submarine had been seen.

"They’re in earnest, at any rate; there’s a pretty picture for you,"
said Uncle Podger as he watched them, the smoke simply pouring out of
their funnels as they made haste to get out of danger.  All ships round
Cape Helles—some forty or fifty ships of all kinds—were ordered to raise
steam, and the _Achates_, shortening in her cable, waited for whatever
would turn up.  Close to her lay the _Swiftsure_; and both had to rely
for protection on the keenness of their "look-outs" and the quickness of
their guns’ crews, because neither ship had torpedo-nets—the _Achates_
never possessed any; the _Swiftsure’s_ were lying in a store-house in
Bombay Dockyard, where she had left them a year before war broke out.

Everyone felt sure that "something" would happen shortly, and actually
experienced a sense of relief to at last be faced with the danger which
had so long threatened.  Very many took good care—very good care—to
secure their swimming-belts under their tunics, in readiness to blow
them up should the necessity arise.

It was a glorious day, with a very slight "ruffle" on the sea; and, as
Uncle Podger told the nervous China Doll: "My dear chap, you couldn’t
want a better day for a swim."

At half-past one the _Prince George_, in a new coat of paint, steamed
under the _Achates’_ stern.  She had returned from a twenty-four-hours
"spell" up the Straits, looking after the Asiatic howitzers, and as she
turned slowly into position, to anchor, she suddenly began to blaze away
with her small guns, for’ard, and went full speed ahead.  At the same
moment the cruiser _Talbot_, about a mile away, hoisted the signal
"hostile submarine in sight", and fired a blank charge to draw attention
to it.  "Close water-tight doors" was piped along the decks; the crew
dashed down below; and the China Doll, trembling with excitement, made
his way for’ard, and saw the splashes of the _Prince George’s_ shells
following and bursting all round what looked like the swirl and heave of
water which a big fish would make when swimming just below the surface.
One of the gun’s crews near him shouted that he saw a periscope;
another, an obvious liar, swore that he could see the tail rudders.

Two destroyers came dashing down—a smother of black smoke and white
foam—dashing right in among the shell splashes—or so it seemed to the
nervous Assistant Clerk—and then began scurrying round and round in
circles, seeking something to pounce upon.

But the submarine had dived, and, whatever her skipper’s intentions
were, she never showed herself again that day.

The _Prince George_ came solemnly back and let go her anchor, like some
half-worn-out old watch-dog who had gone barking round to drive off
intruders and then returned to his kennel door; whilst the _Swiftsure_
started off to join the destroyers in their search.

But then commenced a most extraordinary exodus of shipping from Cape
Helles.  Transports and store ships hove up their anchors and started
off on their sixty-mile journey to Mudros to seek safety behind the
submarine net across the entrance.  The _Achates_ received orders to
proceed there too, and, you may be sure, was not long getting under way,
steaming on a straight course until a signal came from the Admiral,
"_Achates_ zigzag".  The sea from Cape Helles was one long line of
hurrying steamers. Two big "crack" French liners, the _France_ and _La
Provence_, the first of which had only arrived that morning, and had not
yet begun to disembark the four thousand troops on board, lingered at
anchor for nearly an hour.  They were such huge ships, and were such
tempting submarine targets, that everyone wondered why they delayed.
Presently, however, they joined in the race for safety, and catching up
the _Achates_, steamed past her as though she had been at anchor.

Was not the China Doll, and many more, too, aboard her, delighted when
the _Achates_ slipped through the "gate" in that submarine net!

That night the _Albion_ and _Canopus_, off Anzac, remained under way,
for safety.  During the night the _Albion_ "took" the ground off Gaba
Tepe, and, not being able to get off, was exposed to a very heavy fire
at daybreak from howitzers, field-batteries, and also from the 12-inch
guns of a Turkish ironclad, somewhere above The Narrows, and firing
across the land.  Fortunately, this fire was as inaccurate as it was
heavy; but the situation was most dangerous and unpleasant until the
_Canopus_ came along, in the thick of the shells, laid out some hawsers
to her, and at the second attempt towed her clear, with a total loss of
only one man killed and nine wounded.

The next two days passed quietly; no submarines were seen or heard of,
until on the second morning, at half-past eight, a periscope was
suddenly observed passing along between the _Swiftsure_ and _Agamemnon_,
at anchor off Cape Helles not six hundred yards from each other.  Fire
was opened immediately, and down dipped the periscope, to appear again
just ahead and on the _Swiftsure’s_ starboard bow.  The _Swiftsure’s_
14-pounders blazed away, under went the periscope and did not appear

It is a mystery why she did not fire a torpedo; presumably she had no
time to get into position to make a good shot.  A signal sent to the
ships off Gaba Tepe and Anzac warned them; but just before half-past
twelve the _Triumph_ there was struck by two torpedoes.  The news that
she had a list brought all the _Swiftsure’s_ officers and men on deck.
Sure enough, they could see her through telescopes listing heavily, and
two destroyers standing by.  In twenty minutes the red composition on
her bottom showed above the water; she rapidly fell over, remained
bottom upwards for some eight minutes, and then disappeared.
Fortunately, very few of her crew were lost.

Another exodus of ships followed, and only the poor old _Majestic_ and
the _Henri IV_, that quaint old Frenchman—with the Captain who feared
neither mine nor torpedo—remained off the Peninsula.  Three days’ grace
the _Majestic_ received, and then she too met her fate, a submarine
creeping up, with her periscope just showing, and firing two torpedoes
at her through a gap between two small store ships.  At 6.45 a.m. on
Friday, 28th May, the poor old ship received her death-blows, and seven
and a half minutes later capsized.  For months her ram just appeared
above the water off "W" beach, until the autumn gales made her settle
farther down and mercifully hid her from sight.

It is not surprising that the general feeling of uncertainty and
uneasiness due to the approach or German submarines should, now that
they had arrived, sunk two big ships, and driven the others away, give
place to one of foreboding and depression.

The army, which had landed with such proud hopes of opening the gates of
The Narrows for the fleet to pass through, had fought itself to a
standstill at Helles and Anzac; its supply beaches were constantly under
shell-fire, and even the "rest" camps daily gave up their toll of dead
and wounded from shells shrapnel or high-explosive.

The big ships could not use the narrow waters with freedom or safety;
and if one, two, three, or five submarines, whatever their number was at
this time, had already made the long voyage from Germany, ten, fifteen,
or twenty might follow; and even if the big ships forced their way to
Constantinople, these submarines could make it impossible for them to
stay there.

Everyone wondered what would be the next move—what would happen next.

There were two bright patches of cheerful sky between the dark clouds:
our own submarines, working with unparalleled daring and skill, passed
up and down The Narrows, through the nets laid across to catch them,
almost at their ease, and prevented the Turks from using the Sea of
Marmora to bring up troops or stores; the Commander-in-Chief himself
remained optimistic, in spite of all.

Dr. O’Neill, meeting Captain Macfarlane, who had just returned from the
yacht _Triad_, which now flew the Commander-in-Chief’s flag, asked him:
"How about the Admiral, sir?  I suppose he is even more depressed than
we are?"

"Not a bit of it," Captain Macfarlane told him. "He is quite cheery; he
has a lot ’up his sleeve’ yet."

From now onwards, the battleships remained behind the nets at Mudros or
Kephalo.  From these, every now and again, one or other of them would
dash out with escorts of destroyers; an aeroplane would circle overhead
to ’spot’ for her; and she would bombard the Asiatic guns, Achi Baba,
Sari Bair, above Anzac, or the Olive Grove, near Gaba Tepe, where the
Turks always had several guns.  Having done as much damage as possible,
back she would steam, zigzagging all the way into safety.

And from this time all stores, ammunition, and reinforcements were
carried across to the Peninsula at night in trawlers, small coasting
steamers, and what were termed "fleet sweepers"; these being small
steamers, of a thousand to fifteen hundred tons, which had—most of them,
at any rate—previous to the war, been employed in the passenger and
freight traffic on the cross-Channel, Irish, or Channel Island services.

Splendidly did they carry out their work—very frequently under fire.

                              *CHAPTER XV*

                           *A Peaceful Month*

The day after the _Triumph_ had been torpedoed, and two days before the
_Majestic_ met the same fate, the _Achates_ left Mudros for the island
of Mytilene, zigzagging all the way, because Mytilene lay at the mouth
of the Gulf of Smyrna, and Smyrna harboured several submarines which
might possibly be in wait for her.

A grand day it was, the sun shining out of an almost cloudless sky, the
sea bluer than the sky, and ruffled pleasantly by a gentle breeze.  In
the evening she passed through a narrow channel between tree-clad
heights, and anchored in the land-locked harbour.

For the last month it had not been possible to go on deck without seeing
a gun fired or a shell burst. Down below, in cabin, ward-room, or
gun-room, you did escape the sight of them—and the sight of those high
explosives bursting among men and horses on the beaches can never be
forgotten—but you could not escape the sound of them.  Each time the
air, coming through scuttle, doorway, skylight, or hatchway, thudded
against your ears, the shock, big or little, from far or near, made you
wince, and made your mind stop momentarily to picture the actual
explosion; your ears tingled, alert and braced, to receive the next
shock, until the constant, expectant waiting and wincing became a strain
which affected many people, even those who were not then exposed to
personal danger.  It made them irritable or taciturn, or brought about
little alterations of character and disposition, not sufficiently
definite, perhaps, to state in words, but real enough to notice at the
time.  In addition, the constant sight of trawlers and boats full of
wounded, passing the _Achates_ on their way to hospital ships, had a
constant depressing effect, not perhaps fully realized at the moment.

Later, when there came the more imminent personal danger from submarine
attack, culminating in the capsizing of two battleships, torpedoed in
broad daylight and in full view of thousands, in circumstances which
showed how impossible it was, under those conditions of service, to meet
submarine attack successfully, the effect of the strain became more

Above all, there lacked the success of the expedition, which alone could
act as an antidote to the strain.

When, therefore, the _Achates_ wound her way through the tortuous
channel into Ieros harbour, her yards almost touching the thick
brushwood which clothed the cliffs, and these cliffs, shutting out all
sight of the sea, opened out to give a view of an inland lake surrounded
by olive-clad hills fading away in the distance, and glowing at the warm
touch of the evening sun, their many-tinted green slopes reflected in
its placid waters; of villages, quiet little peaceful villages, with the
peasants clustering along the water’s edge as the ship floated past, or
white-sailed boats crowded with smiling, gaily-welcoming Greek men and
women, it seemed as though a magician’s wand had suddenly guided and
wafted her into some fairy harbour, where war and the brutalities of
bloodshed could never have been known and would never dare to intrude.

Officers and men stood, drinking in, in their various ways, the beauty,
the peace, and the overwhelming quietness of it all.

"Old ’Gallipoli Bill’ will drop one among those people in a moment;
they’re exposing themselves terribly," the Hun grinned.

"They’ve got ’dug-outs’ all handy, somewhere close by; you bet they
have!" Rawlins said.

"I wonder how our three chaps are getting on at ’W’ beach;" said the
Sub, smacking the open-mouthed and staring China Doll on his back, so
that his doll’s eyes nearly fell out.  "My jumping Jimmy, what a place!
My blessed stars!  What a bathe we’ll have when we’ve dropped the
’killick’.  I’ll ask the Commander," and stalked away to find him,
banging every member of the Honourable Mess he met with his fist, with
shouts of "My jumping Jupiter, what a place!"  The Pimple pointed out to
the China Doll one of the boats they passed.  Half full of oranges and
bananas it was; and their mouths watered and their eyes brightened as
they thought of the feast they would have if it came alongside and the
ward-room messman did not buy them all.

The ship slowly turned round another bluff, and a collier with two
English submarines lying alongside her came into view.

"They rather spoil the picture," Uncle Podger said, "but we needn’t look
at ’em."

Then the _Achates_ let go her anchor, the cable rattled noisily,
stopped, and the ship lay still.

A quarter of an hour later, "hands to bathe" was "piped", and in less
than ten minutes, at least five hundred officers and men were bobbing in
the water alongside, and the air was alive with their cheery shouts.
The men dived off the booms, the nettings, out of the gangways, or
climbed down her sides; the water for’ard was so thick with black heads
and white shoulders, that when another man and yet another, a constant
stream of them, dived in, one could not help wondering if there was a
clear space for them to dive into, though the others always did manage
to "open out" and let the newcomer in without accident.

Aft, some of the Honourable Mess were diving off the top of the
accommodation ladder; others, the more cautious ones, preferred to drop
off the foot of it.  The Hun went off the top, so did Rawlins. Uncle
Podger walked sedately down the ladder, turned a back somersault, and
bobbed up again, in time to see the Pimple make a show of diving off the
top, decide that it was too high, and walk down it.  The China Doll,
trying to attract attention, wouldn’t even dive from the foot of the
ladder. "You’ll promise not to duck me, won’t you?" he squeaked, and
lowered himself down, holding on to a rope.  The Sub, with his gnarled
muscles showing under his bathing dress, and disdaining the twenty-foot
dive from the ladder top, climbed to the edge of the after bridge with a
water polo ball under his arm, threw it far out from the ship, climbed
the rails, balanced himself for a moment, roared out "Look out, you
jumping shrimps!" and dived forty feet into the water, cutting it like a
knife, and coming to the surface some thirty yards farther away.  The
more sedate ward-room officers, disrobing in their cabins, heard his
stentorian, roaring shouts of, "My jumping Jimmies!  What a place!"
Presently they too appeared on deck, twisting their towels round the
quarter-deck rails before they joined the merry splashing throng; the
little Padre had his swimming-belt round his chest, and his everlasting
pipe in his mouth.  The Hun and Uncle Podger, seeing him come down the
ladder, winked at each other, and waited to see what would happen when
he jumped into the water; but were disappointed, for he lowered himself
carefully; the swimming-belt kept his head well above water, and he
paddled about, still smoking.

Around and among all these swimmers paddled the Greeks in their quaint,
picturesque boats, watching them and smiling with amusement.

The Hun and Rawlins, slightly out of breath, after having disappeared
for a few brief moments below the surface of the water in their efforts
to decide which had ducked the other, caught hold of the stern of a boat
which happened to be near, and drawing themselves half out of the water,
grinned happily at a bevy of plump young damsels sitting there.  The
girls, laughing merrily, gave them each an orange; whereupon they
slipped back into the water and proceeded to eat them.  But the sight of
these two lying placidly on their backs and devouring their oranges was
too much for the others.  Uncle Podger with his trudgeon stroke reached
the unsuspecting Rawlins first, seized his orange, ducked him, and
dived, only to come up among the enemy—the Pimple, the Sub, and the
outraged Rawlins.  The War Baby threw himself into the mêlée; the Hun,
swallowing the rest of his orange, joined in too; and the life of Uncle
Podger was only saved by a shower of oranges, and peals of girlish
laughter from the boat.

Securing their prizes they shouted, "Thanks, awfully!  Merci beaucoup!"
hoping that they might understand French; and the War Baby, who knew a
few words of Spanish, called out, "Gratia! Señoritas!" hoping they could
understand that.  But language did not matter; they knew what was meant
to be expressed, and shrieked with laughter.

The Fleet-Paymaster, puffing along by the side of Dr. Gordon, who looked
exactly like a walrus in the water, grunted out: "We’re too old, I
suppose, for ’em to chuck oranges at us?  Let’s try!"

And they did; and each got his orange, and his shriek of laughter when
he tried to eat it without spoiling the taste with sea water.

All this time the China Doll, who could only swim a few strokes, did not
venture far from the foot of the ladder, very miserable that everybody
seemed to have forgotten him, and knowing that if he did venture out
among the others he would certainly be ducked—which he hated—and very
probably drowned.

Up on deck, Captain Macfarlane, grimly looking on, met the
Gunnery-Lieutenant coming up from performing his trick of tossing a hoop
off the top of the ladder, and then diving through it as it lay on the
surface of the water—he had done this about ten times already, as if he
were carrying out some drill or religious exercise.

"Mr. Gunnery-Lieutenant," Captain Macfarlane said, tugging thoughtfully
at his beard; "the Great War is still on, is it not?" and the startled
Gunnery-Lieutenant, the hoop in one hand, the other raised to his
dripping hair in wild salute, replied: "Oh! Yes, sir!  As far as I know,
sir!" and, later on, gave it as his opinion that "the Skipper must be
going off his head".

Presently the bugle sounded the "retire", and everyone splashed back to
the ship, the members of the Honourable Mess going down to the
half-deck, chattering like magpies round the Pink Rat’s cot whilst they
rubbed themselves down and dressed.

"I never got an orange.  I do think you chaps might have brought me
one," the China Doll squeaked, a little upset because no one had taken
any notice of him; so they chased him round the half-deck with their wet
towels, till he shrieked for mercy and was happy again.

Then they rushed up on deck, because the Hun and Bubbles meant to ask
those girls on board to show them the holes made by the Smyrna shells,
as some little "return" for the oranges.

The others had "dared" them to do this; and they would have asked them,
but were too late—their boat had paddled back to the village.

What a dinner they had that night!

The miserable little messman, for once, had risen to the occasion, and
bought potatoes, cabbages, lettuce, and onions, and fruit—oranges and
bananas—which of course were "extras".

"I’m jolly sorry that the other three aren’t here," Uncle Podger
remarked, as he skinned his fourth orange.  "Wouldn’t old Bubbles have
loved them? Wouldn’t he have been pretty to watch?"

On these occasions, when "extras" had been provided, a comic scene
always followed in the pantry. In order that the messman could know who
devoured his precious "extras", and could put the names down in his
book, he had to keep a very smart "look-out" through the sliding doors
in the pantry bulkhead; and Barnes, who hated him like poison, would
block one and then the other with his huge head and shoulders, so that
he should not see which of the "young gen’l’men" had taken an orange or
banana.  As Uncle Podger always said on such occasions: "It was pretty
to watch him and Barnes dodging each other backwards and forwards, from
side to side."

Barnes would slide across one of the trap-doors, then block up the
other; across would dart the little messman, slide back the one which
had just been closed, and peep through it.  Bang would go the other, and
Barnes would be seen pushing the messman aside, muttering "’Ere you;
you’re getting in the way, you are", reaching through, and making
pretence of drawing back any dirty plates or dishes which stood on the
sideboard.  And so this game went on; whilst the Pimple and the China
Doll, keeping their eyes about them, would seize fruit at the most
favourable moment, drop the skins on someone else’s plate if possible,
and if not, throw them far under the table.

Barnes, afterwards, when he cleared the table and swept up the deck,
would do it to a muttered accompaniment of: "That nawsty little beggar,
a-countin’ up and a-puttin’ down everythink of ’is beastly hextras.
’Umph!" (bang would go the broom against a leg of the table).  "And who
eats ’em?  ’Umph! the nawsty, slimy toad.  I’ll learn ’im, me as what
’as a pub of ’is own at ’ome—or ’ad, afore this ’ere war a-started."

The days which followed were days of real delight, never to be forgotten
by the Honourable Mess, who revelled in them and in the noiseless,
peaceful nights when they slept on the quarter-deck, and woke to slip
off their pyjamas and plunge over the side into the transparent water.

In a week’s time, very early one morning, up the harbour came the grey
picket-boat with the Orphan; behind her followed Trawler No. 370 with
Bubbles, the Lamp-post, and all that was left of their beach party.

"Come along, you chaps!" called Uncle Podger, waving his towel, when at
last they came aboard. "My! but you do look scarecrows!  Off with your
grubby clothes and flop in.  It’s simply splendid!"  They did flop in;
and that morning’s bathe, when the Honourable Mess was once more united,
was a memorable one, especially to the "War Baby"—the officer of the
watch—who could not make them come out of the water until long after the
regulation time, and until the Commander had twice sent for him to know
why he didn’t stop that confounded noise round the foot of the ladder.

They arranged a grand picnic next day, and hired two of the little Greek
sailing-boats which ferried people across from one side of the harbour
to the other.  They bought a basketful of oranges from the Greek boats
alongside—it was cheaper to do this than to get them through the
messman—they took a kettle of water, tins of jam, milk, and butter,
loaves of bread; and away they went, with a merry breeze, the whole
crowd of them, the Sub, Uncle Podger, the Orphan, Rawlins, and Bubbles
in one, the Lamp-post and the remainder in the other.  They raced the
two boats to a tiny island at the mouth of the entrance of the harbour,
beached them without rubbing off much paint, stripped, and larked in the
water and out of it, on the grass under some trees.

Then the China Doll and the Pimple were appointed "cooks of the mess",
and wandered off to collect driftwood to make a fire on the beach,
whilst the others stretched themselves on the grass to dry themselves
until they were too hot, then plunged in again till they were cool.  By
the time the fire had begun to crackle famously the Sub, Uncle Podger,
and two of the snotties—the Lamp-post and Bubbles, who were over
eighteen years old—had found their pipes, lighted them, and were puffing
away luxuriously. The Sub, whose heart warmed benevolently within him,
called out: "Carry on smoking, my bouncing beauties—every mother’s son
of you—so long as you aren’t sick!"  So off dashed the others to their
clothes, and produced the well-worn pipes which they had brought with
them, hoping that the Sub would be in a good temper.  Even the China
Doll produced a cigarette case, and made a great fuss of lighting a
"Virginian", puffing at it like a girl, then holding it in his fingers
because the smoke made his eyes water.  "No ’stinkers’!  No ’gaspers’
here!  Phew. What a horrible smell!" the others shouted.  The Orphan
pretended to faint, Bubbles threw himself down in the grass and groaned.

"I haven’t any ’Gyppies’," pleaded the Assistant Clerk.  "You smoke
’stinkers’ yourselves sometimes.

"Only on board, China Doll, to drown the smell of the gun-room, when
you’re in it," Bubbles gurgled. "Get to leeward, you little stink-pot!"
The Pimple and Rawlins made a rush for him; he dodged them, and waded
into the water.

"Come back!" they shouted as they followed him. "We’re getting wet; we
can’t swim a stroke," and drove him out until only his head and neck
were above the water.  They made him smoke it there, throwing clods of
earth at him whenever he attempted to take it out of his mouth to
prevent his eyes watering.

"Nice, quiet, gentlemanly lads," said Uncle Podger from the grass.
"Very pretty to watch, aren’t they?"

But the Pimple—earnestly occupied in keeping the China Doll and the
"overpowering" smell of his tiny cigarette from destroying the aroma
from nine fairly foul pipes loaded with "ship’s" tobacco—and the China
Doll thus engaged, with only his head above water, were neglecting their
duty as cooks to the Honourable Mess.  The kettle was trying to lift off
its lid, and threatened to fall over.

It was saved just in time, and the Pimple, violently seized by the Hun
and Rawlins, escorted back to his duties, whilst the China Doll waded
out with his cigarette damped and "dead".

The Sub, Uncle Podger, and the Lamp-post lay and smoked, and watched the
others carrying all the paraphernalia of tea from the two boats to a
little place under a shady tree, cutting slices of bread, and opening
the tins of milk, butter, and jam.

"Isn’t this an extraordinary change from ten days ago?" said Uncle
Podger presently, with a great sigh of enjoyment.  "The whole place
looks as if it had never even heard of such a thing as war."

"It may look like it, Uncle, but you’d be nearer the mark if you said
that it had never really known peace," the Lamp-post said.  "Why,
Mytilene, and the other islands round about here, have seen fighting all
through history—history was made in these parts—right away from the year
one—five hundred years before it, too, and they haven’t known peace—not
for any length of time—ever since.  The Phoenicians, Athenians,
Carthaginians, Romans, Persians, Syrians, Turks, and Greeks—they’ve all
had a "go" at it—landed and killed the men, garrisoned the place for a
few years, till they were "booted" out or killed by the next little lot
to come along.

"I was only asking the Interpreter[#] this morning, and he told me that
there are villages up there" (and the Lamp-post pointed across the
harbour to the slopes of the hills) "which are full of Turks, and they
daren’t come down to the Greek villages except in numbers and in the
daylight—nor dare the Greeks go up to them—for fear of being killed.  He
told me that the Greeks and Turks are always fighting on these islands,
and on the mainland right along the coast to Smyrna.  The Greek chaps
get on their nerves; they work hard, are smarter business men, lend
money, which makes them very unpopular; and there are so many of them in
the coast towns that the Turks are really frightened of them, so they
kill them whenever they get a comfortable opportunity and can raise the
energy.  Hereditary enemies they are, and vendettas go on just as they
have done for centuries; but the Turk has generally got an old rifle, of
sorts, so it’s the Greek who gets killed in the long run.

[#] The _Achates_ had a Syrian interpreter on board.

"You see," went on the Lamp-post, "all the Turkish soldiers who used to
keep the peace—sometimes—in the villages and small towns have been
withdrawn to Smyrna or the Dardanelles, and now they are away the Turks
and Greeks are at each other’s throats hammer and tongs.  The
Interpreter told me that there are more than thirty thousand refugees
from the coast in Mytilene alone, and thousands more are trying to
escape before they are killed."

"That’s why the Greeks here are giving the Turks in the hills such a
rotten time, I suppose?" the Sub asked.

"It rather spoils the picture," Uncle Podger said; "I wish you hadn’t
told us."

"Let us go, some day, and see the castle at Mytilene," the Lamp-post
suggested.  "The Interpreter says that it was started five hundred years
B.C.—by the Phoenicians or someone like them, and has been added on to
by everybody else ever since.  He says you can see some parts which are
Roman and some which the Persians built.  I’m frightfully keen on things
like that," he added apologetically:

"Come along, you chaps!  Everything’s ready!" the others shouted,
carrying up the kettle of boiling water.

A grand tea they had, although the Orphan upset a good deal of the only
tin of milk over himself.  That did not matter much, for they managed to
save most of it with spoons.

"Pass the Orphan, please," one or other would say, "I want some more
milk;" and whoever was sitting next to him, Bubbles or Rawlins, would
sing "He’s too heavy," and pretend to scrape more milk off his

The China Doll and the Pimple, however, felt that there were two things
lacking to make the picnic a complete success—sardines and some tinned
sausages to cook over the fire; but, of course—and they sighed
heavily—the gun-room store was empty.

The China Doll, presently, blinked and blushed, and suggested that they
should ask the War Baby to the next picnic.  There was a shout of "He’s
all right, but he doesn’t belong to the gun-room—this is a gun-room

"But, if he came, he might bring some sardines and ’bangers’.  I know
they have some in the ward-room—I asked their messman."

"You’re a perfect marvel, China Doll; fancy thinking all that out in
your noddle!" the Pimple said admiringly.  "I votes we do ask him."

Then the Orphan, catching sight of the wet remains of that "Virginian"
cigarette lying in the grass, pretended to faint; and when he’d been
revived by a convenient twig twirled round inside his nose, groaned:
"I’m awfully sorry, you chaps, but didn’t you notice that awful smell
again," and pointed to that unhappy cigarette end.

"Don’t be silly," the China Doll kept on saying, blushing and trying to
hide it; but they sent him twenty yards along the beach, made him scrape
with his hands a hole, a foot deep, in the muddy sand, and bury it
there.  "You’ve eaten all the oranges," he almost "blubbed" when he
returned.  "My back’s all sunburnt, and my feet are tingling.  I’ve been
treading on something which hurts."

They threw some oranges at him and made him happy, but he kept on
looking at the soles of his feet.

"Well, if you will tread on sea-urchins’ eggs you can’t expect anything
else," the Lamp-post said, having a look at them himself.

"Lend us a knife, somebody; he’s got thirty or forty of the spikes in
his feet."  But the pain of having them extracted with a pocket-knife
was too much for the Assistant Clerk; he said he’d get Dr. Gordon to
take them out when they went back to the ship. He ate his oranges, and
looked rather miserable whilst he dressed, slowly.

The others played the newly invented "submarine game", standing in a
ring with the water up to their chins, their legs wide apart, and stones
in their hands; whilst the Orphan, who took the part of a submarine,
started in the middle, dived, and had not to come to the surface before
he had torpedoed somebody by swimming between his legs.  If any part of
him showed up above the surface, or he came up to breathe, the others
threw stones at him; and if he was hit he had lost, and started again.
The torpedoed one had to change places with the "submarine"; and when
the fat Bubbles was at last torpedoed and had to take this leading part,
you can imagine that parts of him showed very often, and he laughed so
much that he couldn’t keep his head under for ten seconds at a time.

"Very pretty to watch," remarked Uncle Podger. Then they all scrambled
out, dried themselves in the sun, dressed; stowed away all the tea
"gear" in the boats—the kettle, teacups, knives, spoons, and plates;
carried the China Doll down to the boat to the tune of "John Brown’s
body lies a-mouldering in the grave"; had a search for a missing spoon;
found it; shoved off, and raced back to the ship, the losing boat’s crew
to pay for the oranges.

"Off you go to Dr. Gordon," the Sub told the China Doll, "and just
pretend those feet of yours don’t hurt you.  If you go limping about
looking like a dying duck in a thunderstorm, you won’t get the kind of
sympathy you want—not from me!"

"That youth behaves like a little girl.  He always wants people to take
notice of him and pet him. Whatever will he be like when he grows up?"
the Sub said afterwards to Uncle Podger.

"A good beating twice a week would make a man of him," advised the
Clerk.  "He is a good enough little chap, but he does want beating."

"I’ll see what can be done," answered the Sub thoughtfully.

At that time the Greek population was extremely polite, and glad to see
British Naval uniforms. Everyone who passed took off his hat, the girls
were all smiles, and the children flocked round, holding out flowers,
though their homage was slightly diminished by insistent demands for
"one pen-ny".  In fact, they became a beastly nuisance after a while.

Now you must understand that the _Achates_ had not been sent to Ieros
for the purpose of providing entertainment for the gun-room officers,
but to superintend the blockade of Smyrna.  To make this blockade
effective, she had under her orders two mine-layers, some destroyers,
and some submarines.  These were always going out or coming in through
the picturesque entrance, and the submarine off duty used to make fast
alongside the _Achates_.  Naturally she proved a great attraction to the
gun-room officers, who used to bother the lives out of the
sub-lieutenants—seconds in command—to show them round.

One of these, a cheery sportsman, burst out with: "Oh, hang it all!
Come along, every one of you; four at a time, and I’ll work through the
whole blooming Mess and get it over and done with."

He did get it ’over’, though the last four, the China Doll among them,
were rather a trial.

"But if," bleated the Assistant Clerk, standing on the plates below the
open conning-tower, "if you did happen to dive when the lid was open,
wouldn’t the water come in?"

There was a roar of laughter from the others (which he wanted); but the
second in command, whose patience had not yet quite vanished, said: "Oh,
that’s nothing! that often happens.  We just stand down here, puff out
our cheeks, and blow up through the conning-tower—blow very hard until
someone climbs up and puts the lid on again."

"Is that really true?" gasped the China Doll, not quite certain whether
he was being made a fool.

Much as the officers appreciated the change of scene at Ieros, the men
appreciated it still more.  All except the beach party and the boats’
crews (a very small proportion) had been cooped up in the noisy, crowded
mess-decks ever since leaving Port Said.  They to could now go ashore
occasionally; twice a day they could jump overboard and swim in the
glorious, buoyant water alongside, and once a week route marches took
place early in the morning, before the sun became too hot.  These route
marches, however, were not very popular.

You may be certain that the first time Fletcher the stoker went ashore,
he took "Kaiser Bill" with him.

"You should have seen him nipping off the bits of grass," he told the
Orphan later on; "he did enjoy himself, sir!"

Whilst here, the wireless press news came each morning, and was not
reassuring, for the Germans had commenced their advance through Galicia
and into Poland, and nothing seemed able to stop them. News, too, from
the Peninsula was bad—nearly a thousand men had been lost when the
transport _Royal Edward_ was sunk by a submarine, and another desperate
attempt to capture Krithia had failed with heavy losses.

As a set-off against all these dismal tales there were rumours of
mysterious monitors on their way out with heavy guns, of reinforcements
pouring eastwards, and of the brilliant exploits of our own submarines
above the Dardanelles, in the Sea of Marmora.

                             *CHAPTER XVI*

                          *A Glorious Picnic*

Among the many queer characters they met at Ieros, none was more quaint
than a Mr. M’Andrew, who appeared on the scene in a very smart, rakish
little motor yacht with two masts and a gay awning, very reminiscent of
the River Thames.  Sometimes he appeared flying the Greek flag, and
bringing the rubicund military governor of Mytilene to "protest" against
the British having done "this" or "that"; with a cheery "Au revoir,
Messieurs; à Constantinople!" when he left the ship.  At other times he
flew the red ensign, and took Captain Macfarlane and the Commander
for—as far as the gun-room knew—pleasant little sea trips.  Generally he
flew no flag at all, and had a most motley crew of picturesque brigands
with him.

Occasionally the yacht used to lie alongside the _Achates_, and once or
twice the Sub tempted Mr. M’Andrew down into the gun-room to take a
glass of iced soda-water, of which he seemed excessively fond. He never
touched alcohol.

He looked like a retired bank-manager who possibly devoted his leisure
to teaching in a Sunday or "ragged" school; he was broad and plump, and
perhaps fifty years of age—a most placid-looking individual who always
wore an old, but not shabby, blue suit, across the ample waistcoat of
which stretched a very thick gold watch and chain.  He talked very
simply—as if talking was mere waste of breath—and his conversation was
chiefly about soda-water and the places he remembered where you could
buy it cheapest. He always carried a bunch of raisins in one of his
side-pockets, and ate them deliberately, one at a time, whenever he was
not smoking a very old briar pipe.  The Sub used to ask him to dinner or
lunch, but he would refuse.  "No, thank you; I never have meals; I just
go on munching raisins, and have some bread occasionally."

Rumour had told the Honourable Mess that he was really a daring pirate,
and led forays against the Turks in the little bays on the mainland—over
against Mytilene—though never a word could they get from him about his
adventures—about anything, in fact, except soda-water, the merits of
dried raisins, and the unfortunate family troubles of his crew.

There was one old man who used to sit on the top of the deck-house all
day long without saying a word to a soul—a shrunken old Greek with very
sharp features and black eyes which seemed to blaze from their deep
sockets in the most startling way.  When you first saw him he looked a
poor, withered, feeble old "dodderer", in spite of the Winchester rifle
he always gripped across his knees, and the two filled bandoliers of
cartridges round his waist and shoulders; but when he turned to look at
you the fierceness of his eyes gave him a most extraordinary appearance.
Mr. M’Andrew used to take him down a loaf of bread—provided by the
gun-room—pat him on the shoulder, and say a few words to him.  "Poor old
man!" Mr. M’Andrew told them, "poor old man; he’s rather miserable.  You
see, he and his three sons kept a flock of sheep on some little island
near the coast, and the Turks came along, killed his sons and the sheep,
and tried to kill him, but he managed to escape.  He knew of a crack in
a rock, where he hid by day—for three days—crawling out at night to suck
the grass and eat berries and leaves, until the Turks gave up looking
for him and went away—thought he must be dead.  I just happened to be
going past there yesterday, saw him wave, and brought him along.  He
won’t be really happy again until he’s killed a Turk for each of his
sons; he thinks I’ll give him the chance soon, so won’t leave me."

"But shall you?" the Honourable Mess cried with one accord.

"This really is not at all bad soda-water," Mr. M’Andrew went on in his
slow, deliberate way.  "I remember when I was in Mexico—no, it reminds
me of some I got at Haiti during the revolution, the one of 1901.  As I
was saying, most of my crew have had a good deal of family trouble one
way or the other. There’s that little lad who cleans the brasswork.
He’s the only one left of a family of twelve—father, mother, brothers,
and sisters.  He hid in the roof when the Turks cut the throats of the
others one night.  He came along here—no, I don’t know how—and wants me
to let him have a rifle.  Oh, those other chaps; nice, gentle-looking
fellows, aren’t they?  They can’t bear the Turks—more or less for the
same reason! Some of their relatives have been killed by them, or
they’ve been driven away from the mainland and have nothing left of
farms, or shops, or flocks, wives or children.  They just come along to
me, and I lend them some old rifles I just happen to have."

"Have they had a chance of using them?" the snotties asked.  "Most of
them say they have killed a Turk or two; tell me so when they come
first.  And I expect they have," went on Mr. M’Andrew in his placid
voice, feeling in his pocket for another raisin, and fumbling with the
fob of his gold watch-chain.

The China Doll, in fact all the gun-room officers, spent a good deal of
time watching him moving about among the fierce, black-eyed ruffians,
who sat about the deck of the smart little motor-yacht with their
bandoliers across their shoulders, their rifles (which Mr. M’Andrew just
happened to have lent them) gripped firmly in their hands.  They cleaned
these interminably, and Mr. M’Andrew walked about and spoke a few words
to each, just as you could picture him walking about the boys in his
Ragged School in Glasgow, distributing raisins and bread to them just as
he might have done to his boys.

One day the motor-yacht towed in a clumsy, old, local trading schooner,
and anchored her abreast the _Achates_.  She turned out to be a Turkish
trading ship which had been becalmed off some Greek village. The Greeks
captured her, and had killed at least one of her crew, for his body
still lay on the deck, just at the break of the poop.

"Oh, no!" said Mr. M’Andrew, in genuine surprise, "I had nothing to do
with it.  I simply found her a derelict and towed her in here.  The rest
of the crew were probably killed as well, but thrown overboard. Oh, no!
that’s nothing unusual."

The dead Turk was handed over to the authorities, and this lumbering old
derelict—she looked at least fifty years old, and was probably a
hundred—swung at anchor, close to the _Achates_, for some days.

The Sub had a brilliant "brain wave", and suggested that the gun-room
should commission her, one day, for a picnic.  Captain Macfarlane gave
permission, and then came the question of asking the War Baby. Finally
it was unanimously decided to do so; and—"Well", as Bubbles said when he
gave the invitation, "if you can bring some sardines and sausages along
with you, so much the better."  They asked Mr. Meredith, the R.N.R.
Lieutenant, and Dr. Gordon, the R.N.V.R. Surgeon, and they asked the
Padre too; and, wonderful to relate, that pale-faced little man jumped
at the offer—"so long as he could smoke his pipe all the time".  The
other two of course accepted.

After dinner, and after considerable deliberation and more noise, the
following notice appeared on the board in the gun-room, under the
alarum-clock and the five broken-down wrist-watches:—


    To−morrow, Thursday, 17th June, H.M. Schooner *What's Her
    Name* will be commissioned, at 1.30 p.m.

    The following appointments have been made to her:—

    Captain ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...  The Sub.
    First−class Passenger   ... ... ... ...  Mr. Meredith.
    First Lieutenant and Boatswain  ... ...  The Pink Rat.
    Officer of Marines and Master−at−Arms    The War Baby.
    Surgeon and Captain of the Main−top ...  Dr. Gordon.
    Chaplain and Official Photographer  ...  The Rev. Horace Gibbons.
    Paymaster and Man−of−all−Work   ... ...  Uncle Podger.
    Captain of the Fore−top ... ... ... ...  The Lamp−post.
    Foretopmen  ... ... ... ... ... ... ...  The Hun, The Orphan,
    Maintopmen  ... ... ... ... ... ... ...  Bubbles, The Pimple.
    Cabin Boy   ... ... ... ... ... ... ...  The China Doll.
    Second Cabin Boy    ... ... ... ... ...  Barnes.
    The Ancient Mariner ... ... ... ... ...  Fletcher the Stoker.
    The Albatross   ... ... ... ... ... ...  "Kaiser Bill".

    *Uniform of the day—Pirate Rig.*

    Coloured shirt, vest, or jersey.
    Trousers or shorts.
    Head−dress—any old thing, as long as it's hideous.

Fletcher they asked because they thought the old man would enjoy "a bit
of an outing", and "Kaiser Bill" was asked because Fletcher wouldn’t
enjoy it without him.

Barnes, on reading the notice and seeing his own appointment, growled to
the messman: "What did them young gen’l’men a-think they was a-doin’ of;
no, ’e wasn’t a-goin’ a-sailorisin’ in that ’ere craft what murder ’ad
been done in, an’ the blood-stain on ’er deck an’ all—not ’e;" but he
changed his mind and went aboard with the Pirate Crew, grinning like a
huge schoolboy, with his big basket of food (including the War Baby’s
sardines and sausages), a bucket of coal and wood to make a fire, a
kettle, frying-pan, and a barricoe of water.  They climbed aboard,
handed up all the "gear" and their towels, and the Sub ran a boat’s
ensign, which he had borrowed, up to the main masthead.

"Hello, Doc! brought your Harley Street bag with you, I see."  Dr.
Gordon laughed.  "Yes," he twinkled, "it might be useful."  The little
Padre, beaming, passed aboard his camera, and climbed up after it.

To give you an idea of what this piratical crew looked like, the Orphan
wore a red tam-o’-shanter, a yellow-and-black sweater, running "shorts",
and gymnasium shoes; and Bubbles had an old kicked-in bowler hat on the
back of his head, a green football shirt stuffed into striped bathing
drawers, and a pair of sea-boots.  He made a picturesque villain,
especially when he gripped a captured Turkish bayonet between his teeth
and gurgled at the China Doll. Most of them started with naked Turkish
bayonets tucked into their belts; but, on Uncle Podger’s advice, the Sub
sent these back in the boat which had taken them all to the _What’s Her
Name_.  What a funny old-fashioned tub she was, and what stories she
could have told of all the years she had been toiling round the coast,
among the islands!  Her high poop had rails round it, some of the wooden
posts beautifully carved, but most of them of rough wood, which showed
that she had "come down in the world" in her old age.  Between the poop
and the still higher fo’c’sle was a "well" deck, with its dark
blood-stain, the foremast right amidships, and two big open hatchways,
one for’ard and one abaft the mast.  Round her fo’c’sle were more rails,
some handsomely carved, and on it was an antediluvian windlass for
hoisting the anchor.  The cable was so rusted and worn that it seemed
hardly possible that she could trust to it to ride out even the lightest
of gales.

Her masts—the lower masts at any rate—and the wide-spreading foreyard
were good, sound bits of timber, but the top-masts and fore-tops’l yards
looked anything but sound, and her "standing" rigging was so chafed and
so badly "set up" that her murdered crew must have been "past masters"
in the art of sailing her gently to prevent her masts carrying away.

"Well, what about it?" the Sub asked Mr. Meredith, with a note of
anxiety in his voice.  "The breeze is blowing straight out of the
harbour; if we run to lee’ard, ’twill be too narrow there to beat back,
won’t it?  We’d best start beating to wind’ard, hadn’t we? Look here,"
he said, "this is rather out of my line; you’d best run the show.  You’d
better start a mutiny right away."

As Mr. Meredith had been in sailing-ships for years, and had been
Captain of a full-rigged ship before he was thirty, what he didn’t know
about sailing wasn’t worth knowing.  "All right," he smiled, "I’m game;"
and seizing the unresisting Sub by the neck of his coloured jersey,
hurled him to the deck with fierce yells, and planting one foot on his
chest, roared: "Clear lower deck!  I’m now the Captain of the _What’s
Her Name_.  Now, you dog," he hissed, as the pirate crew "fell in", "get
up and ’fall in’ among those rascals; another word and you’ll walk the
plank, and your bones shall bleach on the coral islands of the Spanish
Main.  Ha! ha!"

The crew, overawed by his daring, and the ferocity of his appearance in
a Turkish fez, a red shirt, Sam Browne belt, and khaki riding-breeches,
gave three cheers for the new Captain; old Fletcher, who had put "Kaiser
Bill" in a safe place where he could not fall down the hatchways, smiled
indulgently; and Barnes, trying to enter into the spirit of the game,
grumbled in an undertone: "This ’ere ’clear lower deck’ and ’fall in’
sounds too much like the real thing," and "’e didn’t see quite where the
fun came in."

Then the Lamp-post and his foretopmen, the Hun, the Orphan, and Rawlins,
were sent off to clear the jibs and slack away the tops’l gaskets up
aloft, and to learn where their proper halyards "ran"; Dr. Gordon, the
Pimple, and Bubbles went aft to get the big spanker ready for setting;
Barnes and the China Doll were ordered to explore the little cook-house,
just under the fo’c’sle; Fletcher had strict orders to keep alight the
cigar which the Sub had brought him, and enjoy himself at all costs, and
all the others followed Mr. Meredith up on the fo’c’sle to heave up the

In five minutes after getting on board, the Orphan and Rawlins were
climbing out along the bowsprit and jib-boom, and the Lamp-post and the
Hun were up aloft, out along the tops’l-yard, unlashing the gaskets and
having a grand time; whilst the crowd on the fo’c’sle began levering
round the old horizontal windlass ("wild cat", Mr. Meredith told them,
was its proper name) with two long levers, like crowbars, stuck in the
holes at each end of it.

"Let’s have a ’chanty’," they called, and the Sub started "We’ll rant
and we’ll roar"; but that did not "fit in", so Mr. Meredith gave them a
very old one:

    "For the times are hard, and the wages low;
      Leave her, Johnny, leave her.
    Last night I heard the Old Man say,
      ’Tis time for us to leave her."

Whilst he sung the first line to a mournful dirge, they shifted the
crowbars into fresh holes, and then, hauling aft on them, joined in the
chorus: "Leave her, Johnny, leave her"; shifted them again whilst he
chanted the third line, and pulled to "’Tis time for us to leave her";
and each time they pulled the "wild cat" round, the links of the old
rusty cable came creaking in through the hawse-pipe, and the metal pawls
of the "wild cat" fell, "clink-clank", into the ratchet notches.

In a minute everybody had joined in the chanty, the Orphan and Rawlins
out beyond the fo’c’sle on the bowsprit, the Lamp-post and the Hun busy
aloft, Dr. Gordon and his "hands" aft.  The China Doll, dashing up to
have one pull at the levers, chipped in too; whilst Barnes bellowed
"Leave her, Johnny, leave her" (thinking it was something about a girl)
from inside the cook-house; and old Fletcher, busy with his cigar,
beamed at everyone through his gold spectacles.

Presently Mr. Meredith, leaning over the bows, sang out: "She’s ’up and
down’.  Heave away, my hearties!  ’Leave her, Johnny, leave her’," and
ran aft to take the wheel; the Orphan and Rawlins, scrambling back on
the fo’c’sle, hoisted the jib, and in a few more turns of the "wild cat"
the clumsy old "tub" began to pay off before the breeze.

Dr. Gordon, the Pink Rat, and the Pimple set the spanker, hauled taut
the clumsy "sheet", and the poor old _What’s Her Name_ slowly pushed her
way through the water.

"Stand by aloft!" Mr. Meredith hailed the fore-top. "Let go gaskets!
Overhaul buntlines!  Come down from aloft!  You on deck, there!  Sheet
home!  Sheet home!  Haul taut lee braces!  Right you are!" as, somewhat
confused and muddled, the foretopmen managed at last to set that tops’l.
"Belay all!"

Mr. Meredith made a wry face.  "She won’t reach to wind’ard much, Doc,
with that old fore-tops’l drawing.

"Haul taut your lee braces, lads!  Hoist your fore stays’l!  Ease off
jib sheets!"

The foretopmen were having all the sport, so the maintopmen dashed
for’ard to help them; and by the time the anchor had been catted and
secured, the _What’s Her Name_ was, as Mr. Meredith said, "moving as
fast as a snail and as sideways as a crab". "We shan’t get far to-day,

Nor did they; though what mattered that?  They were as happy as kings;
the "going about" was such fun; everybody had something to do,
especially when the Padre, the China Doll, or the War Baby slacked off a
wrong rope at the right time or a right rope at the wrong time.  It was
grand fun, and old Fletcher, sitting on the poop yarning with Uncle
Podger, thoroughly enjoyed himself; whilst from for’ard a little column
of grey smoke, and an occasional bellow of "Leave her, Johnny, leave
her", showed that Barnes, getting tea ready, was also quite happy.

The China Doll stole aft and called up to the Pimple, standing on the
main "cross-trees", above the spanker "jaws": "Pimple, I say, Pimple,
there are five tins of sausages.  Isn’t that grand?"

Suddenly, from for’ard, there came shrieks and agonized yells for

"Fletcher!  Hurry!  Come quickly!  Help!  Help!"

The Orphan and the Hun flew up the rigging, yelling "that ’Kaiser Bill’
had broken loose, and was attacking them"; Bubbles, bursting with
laughter, climbed the dangerously weak ratlines after them; the
Lamp-post and Rawlins swarmed up the rigging on the other side, and even
the little Padre, catching the infection, sprang up as well.

"We won’t come down till he’s chained up.  Look at him!  Careering round
and snapping at everything.  Save us, Fletcher!  Save us!"

Old Fletcher, smiling kindly, came along from the poop, asking: "Where
is he?"

"There; there—near the water-butt!  Do be careful! Get at him from
behind.  Wave a lettuce leaf in front of him.  We’ve brought a lettuce
in case he attacked us.  Barnes!  Barnes!  Bring the lettuce!  ’Kaiser
Bill’ has broken out!"

The old stoker, peering about for the tortoise, found him just where he
had left him—his legs and head well tucked "inside"—-picked him up,
placed him inside his "jumper"; got a lettuce from Barnes, who grunted
"they young gen’l’men will be a-breaking their blooming necks afore
long, I reckon"; and went aft again, to try and tempt the tortoise to
put his head out, and show some interest in the picnic.

Then the Padre and some of the snotties ventured on deck, again, though
most of them preferred to lie out on the tops’l-yard, which was so
frail, and its "lifts" so badly "set up", that it bent ominously, as did
the fore-topmast itself.

"Come down off that yard!" Mr. Meredith shouted. "Only two of you are to
be there at a time."

They begged him to let them set the upper tops’l, but that yard was more
like a broom-handle than anything else.

"The Hun can do it; no one else.  The mast is rotten, and the yard too,"
Mr. Meredith shouted. (The Hun was the lightest of all the midshipmen.)
So the others gathered in the "top" and watched the Hun swarm up the
topmast, and so out on that tiny yard, casting off the gaskets of the
tiny sail.

Then they dashed down on deck, before Mr. Meredith’s voice bellowed out:
"Let fall upper tops’l gaskets; overhaul your buntlines; sheet home,
sheet home.  Belay all!"

Then came the "pipe": "Clear lower deck!  All hands ’bout ship’!"

When once the ship had tacked away from the shore, most of them made
some excuse or other to find their way aloft again or out on the
bowsprit; and though it may have looked curious to see the _What’s Her
Name_ slowly beating to wind’ard, backwards and forwards, across the
harbour, with most of her crew up aloft or clinging to the bowsprit all
the time, what did anything matter?  They all enjoyed themselves hugely;
those up aloft sniffing as the fragrant odour of cooking sausages
floated up to them from the cook-house.

Tea-time came before they knew it.

"Seven bells, Bos’n," Mr. Meredith called out. The Pink Rat found an old
tin and beat it. Everybody sang out for Barnes, came down from the mast,
the bowsprit, or the poop, and rushed to help bring aft all the

Old Fletcher fidgeted and looked at the Sub.

"Right you are, Fletcher!" he said, knowing that the old stoker would
enjoy his tea more with Barnes than with them; so whilst they all sat
round the poop and had a gorgeous tea—what a tea!—Barnes and Fletcher
and "Kaiser Bill" had tea by themselves at the break of the fo’c’sle,
and Bubbles, good-natured Bubbles, steered.  However, there was so
little breeze that it did not much matter whether anybody steered or
not; and Dr. Gordon, finishing his meal quickly, relieved him.

"Where are we going to have our bathe?" Bubbles asked.

"Nowhere, my jumping Jimmy!  I’m not going to weigh that anchor again,
it is too much like work; we’ll just sail about," the Sub said.

When nothing but empty plates, empty tins, and an empty teapot remained,
and they were just going to fill their pipes, Dr. Gordon at the wheel
called out: "Fetch my surgical bag, someone.  I knew it would be

The Hun fetched it, opened it, and inside were three tins of pine-apple.

"You _are_ splendid, sir," they shouted, as they opened the tins and cut
the pine-apples into fat slices. "Won’t these fill up odd corners?"

What a grand feast that was!

Then it was time to go back.  The breeze had fallen still more, so the
helm was put up, sheets were eased, the foretops’l and its little upper
tops’l squared away, and the _What’s Her Name_ wafted slowly back to her
anchorage, whilst everybody lay back, contentedly smoking and thoroughly

They came abreast the _Achates_; sail was taken off her; the anchor let
go; the "wild cat" whirled round (they knew then why it was called a
"wild cat"); and there was nothing to do except pack up and stow away
everything "shipshape", and wait until the Officer of the Watch sent the
cutter across for them.

She came.  They were taken back to the _Achates_, and the poor old
_What’s Her Name_ left desolate. Never could she have made a more happy
voyage or borne a merrier crew than she did that afternoon—not in all
her long life.

They had noticed that the motor-yacht had come in and run alongside the
_Achates_ soon after they had started on their picnic; and when they
went on board, the Officer of the Watch told the Sub that Captain
Macfarlane wanted to see him directly he had shifted into uniform.  In
ten minutes he was ready, went aft, and found the Captain in
conversation with Mr. M’Andrew.

"Oh!  Come in!" the Captain said.  "Had a good picnic?  No lives lost?
Your crew seemed to spend most of their time aloft.  I was afraid that
you’d kill someone before you’d finished."

"Everyone all right, sir.  We had a grand time."

"Well, we have a job for you.  Mr. M’Andrew has brought in two refugees,
escaped from a place called Ajano, a little village, up a creek, not far
from Smyrna.  They say that there is a Turkish patrol-boat hiding up
there.  I want you to take the picket-boat and "cut her out" to-morrow
morning at dawn."

The Sub grinned with delight, and forgetting where he was, burst out
with: "My jumping Jimmy! what a show!—I beg pardon, sir.  I meant ’what
a splendid job.’  Thank you, sir, I’d love to go;" whilst the Captain
crossed his thin knees, tugged at his beard, and smiled at his
eagerness.  In ten minutes he had given him all instructions; and the
Sub, going out, found the Orphan waiting for him outside his cabin in a
great state of excitement.

"What is it?  What’s going to happen?  They’re sticking the maxim in the
picket-boat, and bolting on those shields in front of the wheel.  Jarvis
tells me that they are going to fix steel plates all round the
stern-sheets as well."

"My perishing Orphan!  What a show it’s going to be!"  And the Sub
pulled the Orphan inside his cabin, shoved him down on top of the
wash-stand, and spread out the rough chart which Captain Macfarlane had
just given him.

"It beats the band, Sonny.  We’ve to go out at midnight.  The
motor-yacht is coming along with us, and we have to rendezvous with the
_Kennet_ at about three o’clock.  She will take us to the mouth of the
creek—here," and the Sub pointed to the creek marked on the chart.  "Two
refugees from the village are coming with us to show the way in—up we
sprint—cut out a Turkish patrol-boat hiding up there in front of the
village—tow her out to the destroyer, and bring her back—a prize.  What
d’you say to that, my guzzling Orphan?  What d’you say to that for a
job?  Fancy catching them asleep, waking them up, and banging them on
the head if they don’t hand over their old junk quietly."

"Or toppling them overboard," gasped the Orphan, wild with delight.  In
his wildest dreams he had never imagined such a grand adventure.

"Well, off you go.  See that the boat is all right. Oh," the Sub called,
as the midshipman began to run off, "we’re to take four more ’hands’.
I’ll choose ’em.  I’ve got ’em in my mind.  Everybody has to take rifle
and cutlass.  You’d better take a pistol, but don’t shoot me with it.
That’s all.  I’ll arrange about the grub.  Off you go."

The Orphan dashed away to supervise the fitting out of the picket-boat.

                             *CHAPTER XVII*

                      *A "Cutting-out" Expedition*

Down in the picket-boat the Orphan found armourers and blacksmiths
busily fitting the additional plates all round the stern-sheets.

"That’ll make a snug place aft, sir," Jarvis said sarcastically, as the
midshipman climbed down into the boat.  "What’s in the wind now?"

"That’s ’summat’ like a job," he grinned, when he had been told; "summat
like a cutting-out job in the old days—that."

The motor-yacht lay alongside the picket-boat, her crew looking very
fierce with their rifles and bandoliers and long knives, and as though
they were wildly keen to go and slay Turks, especially so when Mr.
M’Andrew spoke a few words to each of them, and set on fire their
passionate hatred of the enemy.

He brought the two refugees across to the steamboat, and explained to
them that they would have to lie one on each side of the maxim
gun-mounting in the bows, and guide the boat in through the creek of
Ajano by pointing their hands in the direction of the channel.  One of
these two the Orphan called "the Bandit"—an oldish man in a fez, dirty
white shirt, black voluminous trousers, a black cloth wound round his
waist, blue cloth wrapped round his legs puttee-fashion, and clumsy
leather boots.  He had an honest face, which the other man had not.  In
fact, the Orphan immediately dubbed this one "the Hired Assassin".  His
swarthy face, glittering black eyes, and bushy eyebrows gave him an
exceedingly treacherous appearance.  He was, at any rate, a picturesque
scoundrel, with his knives sticking out of the folds of a dirty red
sash, and the sunburnt skin of his neck and chest showing through the
open, dirty shirt he wore.

"You are going in first," Mr. M’Andrew said, "and, if necessary, I shall
come along afterwards.  I expect that it will be difficult to keep back
my chaps. Watch that old ’grandfather man’."

The old Greek with the burning eyes sat under the motor-yacht’s awning,
with his rifle across his knees, and his wizened old head turning from
side to side, looking exactly like a vulture that has sighted some
likely carrion.

The Sub, coming down, sent the Orphan and Plunky Bill aboard with the
cutlasses, to have them sharpened on the grindstone.

That was a grand job—with half the crew looking on.

"I pity the poor Turk who gets that on ’is ’napper’," Plunky Bill
grinned, as he felt, with his great horny thumb, the new edge on one of

By eight o’clock everything had been done, so the Orphan went down to
the gun-room to get a "watch" dinner, and ate it amidst a babel of
gramophone tunes and noisy horse-play as the Honourable Mess wound up
the day, after their joyous picnic in the _What’s Her Name_.

"You’ve got a job in front of you.  Come along with me," said the Sub
when he had finished.  He took him to his cabin, gave him a rug and a
pillow to lay on the deck, climbed on his bunk, and turned out the
light.  "Now coil down and go to sleep," he growled.

The Orphan did sleep after a while—slept until the sentry banged on the
door and sang out: "Seven bells just gone, sir!"

"Come along, my jumping Orphan!  Come along! Wake up!  Show a leg!" the
Sub cried, turning up the light.  "Now we’re off for our picnic."

They pulled on their boots, buckled their revolver-belts round them—the
Orphan feeling a funny sensation of emptiness under his belt, just at
first—and went on deck, creeping under the hammocks in the half-deck,
and hearing Bubbles snoring luxuriously.

They climbed down into the picket-boat and found Jarvis.

"Everything ready, sir!  Old Fletcher ’as just gone up to bring down
that there hanimile of ’is—the old ’umbug.  ’E’ll be along in a minute.
I’ve got some ’ot cocoa for you two officers—down in the cabin."

Alongside, in the motor-yacht, the Greeks were coiled up asleep, and Mr.
M’Andrew could be seen, walking round in his usual ponderous way, waking
them.  A little oil-lamp in her engine-room showed the Greek engineer
overhauling the motors.

The Bandit and the Hired Assassin, with rifles and bandoliers, were
brought across and taken down into the forepeak.

From the dark gangway above them the Captain’s voice called down:
"Everything ready to start?"

"Yes, sir," the Sub called back.

"Well, good luck to you!  I hope you’ll bring back a prize by

"We’ll have a jolly good try, sir," the Sub answered.

"It’s time for you to shove off, Mr. M’Andrew," the Captain sang out.
"Good luck to you!"

The motor-yacht let go her ropes; there was a smell of petrol, and a
tut-tut-tut from her stern, and off she went in the dark.

"That there old ’umbug ain’t come back yet," Jarvis told the Sub.  But
just as he was about to send a "hand" to look for him, Fletcher came
climbing down.

"Very sorry, sir, but I can’t find ’Kaiser Bill’ anywhere.  The picnic
must have made him so giddy that he’s started climbing over the boat

"Bad luck, Fletcher!" the Sub said sympathetically.

"Well, he did seem a bit of a mascot—as the saying goes."

"The old ’umbug!" snorted Jarvis.  "’E ain’t no blooming mascot."

"Well, off you go!  Good luck!" called the Captain.

"Shove off for’ard!" cried the Sub.

The Orphan rang "ahead" to the engine-room, and the picket-boat followed
the motor-yacht out through the narrow, very dark channel into the open
sea.  The two boats then changed places, the picket-boat leading and the
motor-yacht following, because Mr. M’Andrew’s compass could not be
trusted.  This was the first time that the Orphan had ever had a
twenty-mile "run" in a picket-boat before him, and, with no lights
showing (except the tiny little glow in the compass-box), on such a dark
night it was rather eerie work.

By half-past twelve they were clear of the harbour. In a couple of hours
they expected to pick up the destroyer _Kennet_.  By twenty past three
there ought to be enough light to see a mile and a half ahead, and by
that time they hoped to be close in to the mouth of the creek.  By
half-past four the job might be over—should be finished—and they ought
to be on the way home, with the Turkish patrol-boat in tow.

"My jumping Orphan!  It’s a grand show, isn’t it?" said the Sub,
swallowing some of the cocoa. "Nothing like ship’s cocoa to stand by
one’s stomach."

The Orphan, awed by the solemnity of the night and the blackness and
emptiness of everything, and too excited to talk, gripped the
steering-wheel and peered into the compass-box.

A little before half-past two the black outline of a destroyer loomed
up.  The signalman in the picket-boat, Bostock—a thick-set,
criminal-looking man whom the Sub had chosen—flashed across with a
shaded lamp.  The _Kennet_ flashed back, stopped, and took both boats in
tow, then very slowly steamed ahead. By a quarter-past three the
coast-line became faintly visible, with a break in it—the creek of
Ajano.  The destroyer stopped, the towing hawser was cast off, and then
the Orphan knew that their time had come.  How his heart beat!

"Shove along in!" called the Captain of the _Kennet_, coming aft.  "I’ll
keep an eye on you.  Get back as soon as you can.  Good luck to you!"

The Orphan had a glimpse of Mr. M’Andrew fumbling with his watch-chain,
and of the Greeks springing about and fingering their rifles as though
they wanted to let them off then and there; and then the destroyer was
left behind, and he was steering for the mouth of the little creek, with
the picket-boat throbbing and panting under him.

"You’ve got your revolver?  Yes, that’s right. For goodness’ sake don’t
fire it unless you are obliged," the Sub said in a low voice.

Jarvis had already buckled on his cutlass.  He, too, had a revolver.
The Bandit and the Hired Assassin crept out of the forepeak and lay down
on each side of the maxim—they looked very keen on their job.  Plunky
Bill went for’ard to the maxim, opened a belt-box, and slipped the end
of the belt through the breech.  The other "hands", including Bostock
the signalman and the three extra men—great horny chaps—stirred
themselves, and buckled their cutlass-belts round them—they would
probably find these more useful than rifles, though rifles also lay

"I’d better have one of these cutlasses," the Sub said.  "Got a spare
one down there?"

They passed up one and its belt, and he fastened it round him, drawing
the cutlass half out of the scabbard to make certain that it would not
stick.  "Clumsy things," he said, "but mighty good in a scrap; can knock
a chap’s teeth down his throat with the hilt—fine."

"You men all ready?" he asked.  "Two of you go for’ard, abaft the maxim.
The others keep down below the plates; and when we run alongside the
patrol-boat, and you hear me "sing out", out you jump and give ’em
’beans’."  It was almost daylight now, and the picket-boat had entered
the mouth of the creek—some four hundred yards wide.  The Bandit and the
Hired Assassin, lying with their hands pointing straight ahead, were
very excited.

"Keep your eye on them," the Sub snapped. "Hello! there’s the village;
you can see it over the land—masts there too, lots of them."

Everything was absolutely quiet, except for the noise of the engines and
the rush of water under the bows.  The creek began to narrow rapidly;
they were approaching a bend in it, and the two Greeks pointed their
hands over one bow, and made a hissing noise to draw attention.  "All
right; we see you; don’t lose your ’wool’.  Follow the ’pointer’,

He touched the wheel, the picket-boat swerved into the channel, and the
Sub rang for half speed.  Five hundred yards ahead they saw a small
building standing some fifty yards back from the bank.  It looked like a
ferryman’s house, or perhaps a small toll-house.  The Bandit cried out
"Turko!  Turko!" but no one could be seen moving about there.  He kept
pointing away to the left—away from the toll-house—and so did the Hired

The Orphan followed the direction they indicated.

"They’re taking us mighty close to the other bank," the Sub said
anxiously, and sent Jarvis for’ard to look out for the water shoaling.
The boat was now not fifty yards from the left bank when, just as Jarvis
threw his hand up and waved for the helm to be "ported", she suddenly
slowed, the bows gave a heave, she pushed on for some ten feet, and then
came to a standstill.

"We’re stuck," the Sub muttered tragically, seized a boat-hook, and

"Deep water ahead," Jarvis, coming aft, reported.

"Turko!  Turko!" the Greeks whispered hoarsely.

The Sub ordered the engines full speed astern, then full speed ahead,
then astern again, but the boat did not shift an inch.

"Turko!  Turko!" the Greeks hissed.

The engines were stopped.  "Everyone overboard," the Sub sang out
softly, and slid over the side into the water, up to his waist.  "It’s
only soft mud, we’ll push her through."

The Orphan let himself down into some sticky mud, and all the men,
except the two Greeks, Fletcher in the stokehold, and the stoker petty
officer in the engine-room, followed.

"Now get hold of her and shove her ahead."

Nobody required to be told what to do; they shoved hard, but with no
result.  Then the Sub made them keep time together.  "One! two! three!
shove!" he called in a low voice.  "Ah! she moved then; now another.
There she goes!"

She glided off; the black mud swirled up under her stern, and the crew,
clinging to the life-lines, dragged themselves on board.

"Phew!  I didn’t like that," the Sub said, as the black mud dripped off
his clothes.  He put the engines "easy ahead", and the two Greeks
pointed towards the toll-house, whining "Turko, Turko," and looking
frightened.  The picket-boat now headed almost straight for the
toll-house, some three hundred yards away; and just as the Orphan caught
sight of someone moving close to it, crack went a rifle, and "ping" came
a bullet overhead.

"Phew! we’re discovered; we must chance it now; full speed ahead!  We
must hurry if there’s to be a chance of surprising that patrol-boat.
Confound those Greeks; they’re pointing to the other bank, again," the
Sub said.

The picket-boat increased speed; one or two more bullets came whizzing
past—one hit the new plates round the stern-sheets.  Plunky Bill swung
his maxim towards the toll-house, but could see nothing to fire at.  The
two Greeks squirmed on the deck, their faces pressed against it, and
their hands pointing away from the toll-house.  The head of the creek
opened out; the little white village of Ajano came into view, with some
sailing craft anchored close inshore, but never a sign of any
patrol-boat.  Another minute, and they saw that the mud-bank on which
they had run ashore was part of an island, and that, some eighty yards
farther on, a narrow channel ran between the mainland and the end of it.

"Port your helm!" the Sub cried, "we’re getting too close; these Greeks
are terrified; we’ll be ashore again in a minute;" and hardly had he
said this, before the picket-boat pushed into something soft, her bows
came up out of the water, her stern swung round, in towards the bank,
not forty yards away, and she came to a dead stop.

"Full speed astern!" the Sub yelled; and full speed astern went the
engines, her stern shook, and the black mud, churned up from the bottom,
swirled for’ard.  But not a movement did she make.

"She’s right in it, sir," Jarvis, rushing aft, told the Sub; "there’s
not a foot of water for’ard."

The Sub jumped overboard abreast the wheel.

There was not two feet of water there, and he walked round her bows,
pulling his feet out of the sticky mud. He could walk all round her
except at the stern. That last swerve she had made had turned the stern
right in to the shore, and the dark back of another mud-bank showed not
six yards away, just under the surface of the water.  He knew, perfectly
well, that she would never get off without assistance.

Bullets kept flicking past—Zip!  Zip!  Ping!  Ping! Some struck the
water quite close to the boat; another smacked against those new plates
round the stern-sheets.  Someone was certain to be hit in a moment or
two; and the first was the Hired Assassin, who got a bullet through his
left arm, and scrambled aft, behind the plates, bleeding like a pig and
whimpering with fright.

The engines were still going astern, but quite uselessly.  Everybody had
to scramble out; most of them did so on the protected side, the side
away from the toll-house.  "Some of you come this side," the Sub shouted
angrily; and the Orphan, Jarvis, and Plunky Bill followed him round.
"Now shove her astern! One! two! three!  Altogether—one! two! three!

They tried a dozen times, but not an inch did she move.  It was
terrible.  Some bullets now began coming from the side opposite to the
toll-house, from beyond that gap of water which separated the island on
which they were aground from the mainland.  They could see some men
creeping among some low, scrubby bushes there, and some puffs of rifle
smoke.  Plunky Bill was ordered to turn the maxim on to them, so climbed
on board, swung the gun round, and let "rip" some fifty rounds.  Those
kept them quiet for a few minutes.

"If Mr. M’Andrew came in, he could tow us on," the Orphan suggested; but
the Sub, although he felt sure that it was helpless to think of getting
off without assistance, would not signal to ask for it, not yet.  He
tried making the engines go full speed ahead and then full speed astern,
the men all pushing and shoving at the same time.  Then they all climbed
on board, crowded as far aft as they could, and tried jumping, up and
down, in time, whilst the engines went full speed astern.  But you might
as well have expected to move a house.  The picket-boat showed not the
slightest sign of coming off.

All this time some ten or twelve rifles were being constantly fired at
them from different points in the direction of the toll-house, only
about two hundred and fifty or three hundred yards away.  Some of these
rifles were evidently mausers—they recognized their sharp crack; but
several were old-fashioned ones which gave a duller noise when they
fired, and their bullets, coming almost simultaneously with the report,
made a bigger splash when they hit the water.  Also, every now and then,
little white wisps of powder smoke drifted up from behind some of those
bushes. Those wisps were practically the only "targets" Plunky Bill had
to fire at, but occasionally he caught sight of something creeping about
among the bushes.

The shooting of these Turks was, of course, execrable; otherwise
everyone in the picket-boat must have been killed.

Soon some of those rifle "cracks" began to sound appreciably nearer.

"The Turks have come down to the bank, near the toll-house," the Orphan
gasped out.  "I think they’re trying to creep along the bank towards

The Sub, wading round the bows, climbed on board and told Bostock to
signal to the _Kennet_, "Have run aground, send motor-boat"; and whilst
Bostock, jumping on the top of the cabin, where he was entirely exposed,
wagged his semaphore flags, Plunky Bill searched the opposite bank with
his maxim.

"Scramble aboard, all of you!" the Sub shouted to those still over the
side.  "Get down behind the shields.  Four of you, fire your rifles at
the bank near that white house, and two at those Turks beyond the

They scrambled behind the cover of the plates, picked up their rifles,
and tried to find something to aim at.

Bostock now took in the reply to that signal: "Am sending in
motor-boat".  The Sub, looking out to sea, saw that the destroyer was
about twelve hundred yards away, and that the motor-yacht was at that
time alongside her.

"Mr. M’Andrew will be here in a few minutes; we’ll get off all right
then," he said confidently.

There was a yell from Plunky Bill, crouched behind the maxim-gun shield
looking for a target.  He put his hand to his face, and found it covered
with blood. He cursed horribly, swung round the maxim towards the scrub
bushes beyond the island, and let off a dozen rounds "into the brown".
Splashes kept jumping up out of the water on both sides; the cracks of
the rifles and the "ping" "flop" as the bullets struck the side of the
boat or the water, or whipped overhead, being almost simultaneous.
Within the protecting shields round the stern, people were practically
safe.  Everyone was there now except Plunky Bill, Fletcher in the
stokehold, and the man in the engine-room.  Theoretically, these last
two were not safe at such short range, though, actually, no bullets did
penetrate the sides of the picket-boat—none that were noticed.

"That motor-yacht has not shoved off yet," the Sub cried, looking over
the edge of the plates.  "I wonder what has happened.  Motors have
broken down, I expect.  Phew! that’s rotten; we’ll never get off without

Jarvis, much excited, shouted: "A lot more men have come along to that
white house, sir; they are coming this way, but I can’t see them now."

"Ask the _Kennet_ to open fire on the white house, and to search the
banks near it," the Sub told Bostock, who jumped on top of the cabin
again, and, though bullets were "zipping" past every few moments, made
the signal quite unconcernedly, then slowly climbed down into safety
under cover of the steel plates, grinning as he spread out one of the
flags and showed a bullet-hole in it.

A minute later the destroyer’s for’ard 12-pounder fired, and a shell
burst just in front of the toll-house. Others came in quick succession,
searching the banks between it and the picket-boat.

Rifle-fire died down at once; one or two men could be seen crawling
away.  A seaman down aft fired his rifle, and swore that he had hit one
of them; the others fired whenever they saw a chance, and so did Plunky
Bill with his maxim.

The motor-boat had not yet cast off from the destroyer.

There was a shout from Plunky Bill, and they saw a ferry-boat crowded
with men start across the creek from the toll-house side.  Two of the
bluejackets fired at this boat, and the maxim was turned on it; but
before there was time to steady it the men in the ferry had scrambled
out, and were hidden among those thick bushes there.

"They’ll be trying to wade across that gap to the island presently,"
Jarvis growled.  "If they do get across, they’ll be able to crawl up to
within fifty yards of the boat without us being able to touch them.  Bad
show this, sir!"

"Curse that motor-boat!" the Sub growled.  "Why doesn’t she come along?"

Then came a warning shout from for’ard; and the Orphan, looking over the
edge of the shield in front of the wheel, saw that some twenty or thirty
men with rifles were commencing to wade across the gap to the island.
At the same moment Plunky Bill fell on his face.  Without thinking, the
Orphan dashed out of his cover and ran to him; but before he reached him
he had risen to his knees, and was endeavouring to swing his maxim round
to fire on them.

He was streaming with blood, both from a wound in his cheek and from
another through the right shoulder.

"I can’t hold it, sir; you take it."

The Orphan’s hands trembled, and his head felt as though it were
bursting; but he gripped the handles, looked along the sights, and
somehow or other got them in line with the cluster of men who had begun
to wade across the gap, and pressed the firing-button with all his
might.  Plunky Bill, with one hand, "fed" the cartridge-belt.

The Orphan did not feel the recoil nor notice the jar on his wrists.  He
saw the splashes his bullets were making, swung the muzzle of the gun a
little to the left, depressed the handles ever so little, until these
splashes flew up right among the Turks.  His shaking hands made the
bullets spread from side to side.

Six or seven of the men disappeared under the water; most of the others
began hurrying back to the cover of those "scrubby" bushes, but two,
three, five pressed on, and in twenty more paces would have gained the
cover of the end of the island.  Once there, they would crawl along till
they could fire right into the picket-boat at point-blank range.

The Orphan gave a yell; something had hit his left foot, and the pain
shot up his leg; but he held on to those handles, swung the maxim back,
and pressed the button.

"A little more to the left, sir," came from Plunky Bill.  "Quick, sir!"

And how he did manage to do it he never could explain, but those five
men all fell; and it was not till Plunky Bill called out "Cease firing,
sir!" that he looked, and saw nothing but a shapeless kind of a hat
floating on the water.

"Got the whole bag of tricks, sir."

"They’re going to try again; they’re gathering behind the bushes."  The
Orphan looked up, and saw the Sub standing behind him.  "Steady, sonny;
wait a minute; they’ll be in sight directly.  That blessed motor-boat
hasn’t started to shove off yet. Ah! there they come! there they are!
Now, let her ’rip’!"

"The Orphan noticed the Sub kneel down behind the maxim shield, on the
opposite side to Plunky Bill, who was still tending the belt with his
left hand.  A bullet, then another, smacked against the little shield,
and through the sighting slit he saw a line of men creeping towards the
ford where those others had attempted to wade across.  His left foot

"Aim low, sonny! aim low!  You will see your bullet-splashes."  He
pressed the firing-button, and the gun spluttered out a dozen rounds,
their splashes jumping out of the water below the bank along which the
Turks were creeping.

"Now, up a bit!  Good!  Now you’ve got into them!  Keep as you are!"
The Sub was speaking quite quietly as the midshipman held on to the
jerking, shaking maxim.  "Now, down a bit!  That’s the ticket!
Splendid!  Phew! they won’t try that again," the Sub said, and yelled
aft for another belt.

Old Fletcher, dragging himself up from the stokehold hatch, ran aft,
seized a new box which someone held over the edge of the shield in front
of the wheel, brought it for’ard, knelt down and opened it.  The Sub
ordered Plunky Bill to go aft.  He staggered back under the protecting
plates round the stern-sheets holding up his right arm with his left

All this time the _Kennet’s_ shells were bursting along the bank on the
toll-house side, and these and the rifle-fire from the seamen in the
stern-sheets kept the Turks fairly quiet in that direction.  Then Jarvis
shouted: "Here comes the _Kennet’s_ whaler, sir. She’s quite close.  The
_Kennet’s_ making a signal."

Bostock, waving his flags, took it in.  "Abandon steamboat—am sending in
whaler for you."  He shouted this to the Sub.

"I can’t, I can’t!" the Sub moaned.  "Orphan, I can’t do it!  You look
after those chaps; keep your eye on them.  My aunt! your left boot’s
nearly torn off.  Keep them from getting across to the island;" and he
dashed aft just as the black whaler ran alongside.

A Royal Naval Reserve lieutenant was in charge of her, and called out:
"You’ve got to abandon her. Take everything you can get into the
whaler—and come back.  It’s been pretty warm work coming in here;
they’ve been potting at us all the way."

"Why doesn’t that motor-yacht come in?  She could tow us off.  What’s
the matter with her?" the Sub asked angrily.

"Her crew won’t face it; they refused to come, and the engineer won’t
start the motors.  He’s disabled them in some way or other, and we can’t
make them work.  Get your gear in here quickly."

The Sub raved and cursed.  He couldn’t make up his mind to abandon the

There came a low, sobbing "Oh" from the stern-sheets, and the other
Greek fell forward—the Bandit. A bullet had come in through a gap
between two of the steel plates, and he had been shot through the body.

"It’s the Captain’s order," the _Kennet’s_ officer cried impatiently.
"You’d best hurry up; we can see any number of men coming along from the
village.  None of us will get away unless you ’get a move on.’"

Sullenly the Sub gave the order to abandon the picket-boat.

Plunky Bill crawled into the whaler; the two Greeks were lowered into
her.  Everything that could be taken was taken—the box of
ball-cartridge, the compass box, the rifles and cutlasses, signal-book,
even the first-aid bag.

The Orphan, still for’ard with Fletcher, who was reeving the new maxim
belt through the feed-block, saw more men start to wade towards the
island.  He opened fire on them; but then the Sub and Jarvis came
rushing for’ard, told him to "cease fire", and commenced dismounting the
maxim, slinging out the belt, lifting the gun and its shield off its
pedestal, and carrying it aft between them.  The Orphan tried to pick up
the empty belt-box, but couldn’t stand, and had to crawl aft without it.
Fletcher brought along the almost full box, then ran back and jumped
down into the stokehold.  Everyone except him was already in the whaler.
They shouted for him.  He did not come, but a black cloud of smoke
belched out of the picket-boat’s funnel.  Bullets were splashing all
round them.  Those Turks were half across to the island—in another five
minutes they would be able to fire right down into the crowded whaler.
Another cloud of smoke came from the funnel.

"He must have gone off his head," the Sub cried, and yelled "Fletcher!

The old man appeared, dragged himself up, and scrambled down into the

"What the devil were you doing?  Shove off! Shove off!  Give way!"

"I put on a few shovelfuls of coal, sir, and closed down all the
valves—thought she might blow herself up presently."

"Shove off!  Get hold of your rifles; half of you blaze away at one
side, half of you on the other—at anything you see!" yelled the Sub as
the very heavily laden whaler pulled away from the poor old picket-boat
and made for mid-stream.

The _Kennet_, out beyond the mouth of the creek, still kept up a
continuous fire to cover the retreat of the crowded whaler as it pushed
along out to her, with the picket-boat’s crew blazing away at anything
they saw which looked like a man’s head.  She must have seen the people
wading across to the island, for she opened fire on them from another
gun, and its shells whistled over the whaler and burst above the bank
alongside the abandoned boat.

The Orphan, huddled down at the bottom of the boat between two thwarts,
felt sick and faint.  His left foot was quite numb.  He looked at it.
The toe and front part of the sole of his boot was all ripped up and
torn, and his sock was dripping with blood. He did not know what had
happened.  The two Greeks lay under the thwarts—very silent.  Fletcher,
near him, kept on saying: "If only I’d found ’Kaiser Bill’ and brought
him along with us, it wouldn’t have happened."

Although a few bullets followed them, no one was hit, and in ten minutes
they were alongside the destroyer, and the Orphan was being hoisted up
the side.  They wanted to carry him, but he would not let them; he
hobbled on his left heel to the ward-room hatch, and got down it
somehow; found a chair, and sat on it.  He heard the _Kennet’s_
12-pounder still firing, and guessed what she was firing at—his beloved
picket-boat—the poor old lady.  She had shared so many adventures with
him, and now was being ripped open by the _Kennet’s_ shells, even if her
own boiler did not burst with the added fuel and the screwed-down
valves.  It was better than that she should fall "alive" into the hands
of the Turks, and the Orphan hoped she understood.

A chief stoker belonging to the _Kennet_ came along presently, cut away
his boot, and took it off (how it did pain!), and cut away the sock.  He
knew how to dress wounds, and did his work well.

"A bullet, sir, right along the top of the boot, then through that toe;
broken the bone, I think—it’s all ’wobbly’.  I’ve a lot of doctoring to
do this morning. That there young Greek chap has a bad smash, my word!
but I don’t rightly know about the other. Stomachs are rather beyond my
’line’.  That there seaman—he’ll be all right."

By the time the foot had been dressed, the guns had left off firing, and
the _Kennet’s_ engines began to make the whole stern rattle.  The Sub
came down, looking haggard, but trying to be cheerful.  "We did our
best, sonny; don’t bother.  It was all my fault.  If we hadn’t been
steaming so fast, we might have got her off.  So you’ve got a bullet
through your foot, have you?  I thought I saw the sole of the boot all
ripped off.  When did that happen?"

"Just after Plunky Bill was hit the second time. Just after I’d started
firing the maxim."

"So you kept going, did you?" said the Sub. "Good for you, Orphan!  If
you hadn’t, those chaps might have got across, and we should have been
’in the soup’ in next to no time.  There wasn’t a sign of a patrol-boat
there," the Sub went on.  "The _Kennet’s_ skipper, from her bridge,
could see every square yard of the creek.  You remember how those
confounded Greeks kept pointing over to port directly after they began
singing out ’Turko’, ’Turko’.  So long as they kept away from the
toll-house, where they had seen them, and gave them a wide berth, they
didn’t care a ’fish’s tail’ what happened to the picket-boat—never
thought of the channel.  That chap you call the Hired Assassin—I expect
he came along with that ’cock and bull’ yarn just to get us to go in
there and smash up the village—a girl had jilted him, or something like
that, I expect.  Oh, if only that motor-yacht had come in!"

"Have you seen Mr. M’Andrew?" the Orphan asked.

"Yes!  He wouldn’t speak.  He wouldn’t look at me.  He was fumbling with
his watch-chain.  He looked as if he’d been blubbing.  That Greek
engineer found out what was wrong with the motors directly everything
was over.  Curse the chicken-livered swine!"

"Did they smash her up?  The Turks won’t be able to use her?" the Orphan

"Yes, old sonny; either her boiler blew up or a shell burst there.
She’s done for."

The Orphan bit his lip—hard.

There happened to be a spare cabin aboard the _Achates_, and, after Dr.
O’Neill had dressed the wounded foot, the Orphan was placed in the bunk

"The toe may have to come off, or it mayn’t," Dr. O’Neill growled.  "It
won’t be any use to you, whichever happens."

Captain Macfarlane came to see him, looking grave, but smiling at him in
his kind, fatherly way.  "The Sub tells me you cleared off a lot of
Turks with that maxim after you’d been hit."

"I didn’t really know I had been, sir."

He tugged at his beard, and then began to talk, as though what he had to
say was not pleasant.  "I have some news for you.  It will be a great
disappointment, I fear, to you, but you will understand why I wish you
to know this before the others.  I may as well tell you that I
recommended the Sub and you, in the picket-boat, and the midshipman of
the steam pinnace for the Distinguished Service Cross."

"Did you, sir?  Really, sir!" The Orphan’s heart beat fast.  "The old
Hun, too, sir?"

"Yes, I did.  It was for taking your steamboats in and bringing off the
crippled transports’ boats, after the Lancashire Fusiliers had landed.
The Sub and the Hun, as you call him, have been granted it, but I am
very sorry indeed" (the Orphan knew what was coming and caught his
breath) "that you have not. The Sub was in charge of your boat at the
time, and you were not.  You see, that makes a difference, I suppose."

The Orphan, biting his lips, nodded.  He could not trust himself to

Captain Macfarlane, putting his hand gently on his shoulder, said: "Now
you know how the land lies. I only heard last night, and thought you
yourself should give the news to the other two.  I hope that will rather
soften the blow.  Won’t it, Mr. Orpen?"

"Right, sir!  Thank you very much for telling me first, and for telling
me yourself," the Orphan managed to say.  "And thank you very much for
recommending me.  None of us knew anything about it."

"Well, good-bye!  Perhaps you’d like to tell the news now; I’ll send
them along."

So, in a minute or two, the Sub and the Hun arrived.

"Hello! my jumping Orphan!  Patched you up, have they, my wounded
warrior!  The Skipper says you want to see us."

"You both have got the D.S.C.  The Captain’s just told me.  Isn’t that

They didn’t believe him for a moment.  Then the Sub, roaring like a
bull, threw the Hun on the deck and nearly strangled him.  "And you?
What about you?" he sang out, letting the Hun get up; and seeing by the
Orphan’s face that he had had no such luck, became quiet.

"Whatever for?" they both asked.  "What did they give it to us for?"

"For going in and fetching the boats back from ’W’ beach that first

"Oh! that!" growled the Sub.  "What a rotten shame!  You did as much as
I, or the Hun, did. That’s the rottenest thing I ever heard of.  Well,
old chap, I’m confoundedly sorry," said the Sub, gripping the Orphan’s
arm; "confoundedly sorry."

The Orphan, left to himself, felt about as miserable as he could be.
Dr. Gordon came in to give him an injection of morphia, just as Barnes
came to the cabin carrying a tray with his breakfast.

"Which will you have for breakfast?" Dr. Gordon asked, in his funny
way—"a little morphia or some bacon and eggs?"

"I think I’d rather have the bacon and eggs," said the Orphan.

                            *CHAPTER XVIII*

                       *Bombarding at Suvla Bay*

The Orphan’s wound gave a great deal of trouble, and for the next
fortnight—a "precious" long fortnight—he remained in his bunk.  The
Honourable Mess looked after him, and kept up his spirits. Captain
Macfarlane occasionally came in and talked to him, sitting with his long
thin legs crossed, smoking his inevitable cigarette, and tugging gently
at his pointed beard.  He told him of the transports pouring
reinforcements into Mudros in great numbers; of the old "Edgars" coming
East, and of the newly built monitors which had begun to arrive—big ones
with 14-inch guns, and practically unsinkable; small ones with a 6-inch
or 9.2-inch gun in the bows, and drawing so little water, that a
submarine would stand but little chance of torpedoing them.  "There is
no doubt, Mr. Orpen," he would say in his quiet, humorous manner, "they
are only waiting for you to be on your feet again to begin a great

Mr. Meredith, Dr. Gordon, the little Padre, and the cheery
Fleet-Paymaster often came to see him; so did Plunky Bill, with his face
and shoulder swathed in bandages, extremely proud of himself.  "If it
wasn’t for the Fleet-Surgeon a-saying they’d to be dressed twice a day,
and ’im a-poking round and ’urting somethink ’orrid, I wouldn’t care a
blow—not me!"

Fletcher brought him "Kaiser Bill" to play with. "He brings luck, does
that tortoise; if we’d only had him with us last time, things would have
been different, sir.  Well, well, the picket-boat has gone, poor thing;
but I was getting too old for her.  My eyes aren’t what they were; for
the last month I could hardly read the gauge-glass in her stokehold—not
even with my spectacles."

He liked to talk to the Orphan about his sons who had been killed in
France, and, what was most unusual, could talk about them without
worrying him.

However, the Orphan was presently allowed to hobble about on crutches;
and one morning shortly afterwards the weekly trawler from Mudros
brought down all the gun-room stores which the messman had ordered from

"We needn’t ask the War Baby to our picnics now, need we?" the Pimple
and the China Doll burst out excitedly, as they saw the piles of
sardines and sausages, tins of biscuits, jars of bloater paste, and all
the luxuries their souls craved.

By the end of July the Orphan returned to duty with a slight limp, which
he kept up rather longer, perhaps, than was absolutely necessary.

The air was full of rumours once again, many of them more ridiculous
than ever; and at last, on the 7th August, came the news that nearly
sixty thousand men had been thrown ashore at Anzac, and at Suvla to the
north of it.  "The new landing", stated the message, "took the enemy
partially by surprise"—and from that the most optimistic conjectures
were made.

Also came the news that E11 had sunk the _Barbarossa_, an old German
battleship bought by Turkey some years back—sunk her in the Sea of
Marmora. You can guess what a noisy, rowdy night that was down in the

Four days later the _Achates_ received orders to proceed to Suvla
herself, and, after her six weeks of "heavenly" rest, everyone felt
greatly pleased to be "up and doing" something again.  She wound her way
out through the tortuous channel between those beautiful green cliffs,
past "Picnic" Island, and zigzagged her way towards the Gallipoli

At dawn of Thursday, 12th August, she passed through a line of trawlers
patrolling between Imbros and Samothrace islands, and presently heard
once more the booming of guns.

No information whatever had been received of the actual progress and
state of affairs; everyone expected—at any rate, hoped—to find the army
established more than half-way across the Peninsula, and still
advancing; so that when Captain Macfarlane saw a big shell bursting on
the very shore itself, he groaned: "Did you see that, Navigator?
Stalemate again, I fear."

"A pretty big one, that shell, sir.  It may have come from a ship
anchored in The Narrows," the Navigator suggested; but even as he did
so, three puff-balls of cotton-wool, shrapnel-bursts, appeared against
the sky, only just behind the line of the shore.

"That makes it certain," the Captain said very gravely; "they can’t
burst shrapnel at long ranges."

A cloud of cordite smoke shot out from the side of a cruiser at anchor
there—the _Talbot_; and both of them watched to see where the shell
burst.  "There it is, sir, just in front of that village," the Navigator
called out, pointing to a village five miles inland, in a dip in the
great semicircular sweep of hills which shut in the whole bay.  "I
thought they had gained those hills," exclaimed the Captain, keenly
disappointed. "Well!"—and he sighed; "if they haven’t by this time they
will never get them.  This means ’finish’."

A submarine net had been laid across the mouth of Suvla Bay; and by the
time the _Achates_ passed through the narrow "gate" between the
supporting buoys, most of the Honourable Mess were gathered on the after
shelter-deck, gazing ashore at the bursting shells, and eagerly trying
to make out the state of affairs.  Even to the most unskilled of these
young officers it was evident that the Army could not have advanced very

The _Achates_ anchored just to the south of Suvla Point, and about
twelve hundred yards from the shore.  As she swung to the breeze and the
tide, the most extraordinary-looking "freak" ship came into view, lying
close inshore, with a squat funnel, and an enormous turret with two huge
guns sticking out of it.  She looked almost as broad as she was long,
and the Honourable Mess burst out laughing when they saw her.  "That’s
one of the new big monitors," Bubbles grunted.  "Look!  What an
extraordinary ship!"


This was the _Havelock_, and farther out lay several of the new small
monitors with a single 9.2-inch gun in the bows or a 6-inch at each end.
Inside the line of black buoys which marked the submarine net were also
some twenty transports and store ships, a collier, a water-distilling
steamer, and many trawlers. Picket-boats, tugs, and little motor-boats
dashed about the harbour; a picket-boat towed a long string of
transports’ boats out towards a hospital ship lying farther away; but
the strangest of all the craft there were the "water-beetles", which
they now saw for the first time.  These were lighters, painted black,
with hinged gangways projecting over their bows, circular shields round
their steering-wheels, and square box-shaped structures aft, each with a
small funnel projecting from its roof, and the official number of the
lighter painted, in huge white figures, on the side.  One went grunting
and thumping past, leaving a track of smoke and a smell of burning oil
behind it, carrying perhaps five hundred soldiers inshore.  Another lay
alongside the nearest store ship, and the bales of hay which they were
loading into her made her look like a huge haystack.  Another, flying a
Red Cross flag, grunted past from shore, filled with wounded.
"Water-beetles" made a most appropriate name for them.

The only other men-of-war at anchor inside the "net" were the
_Swiftsure_, _Talbot,_ and _Cornwall_; but farther down the coast, off
Anzac and Gabe Tepe, they could see their "sister" ship, the
_Bacchante_, looking very much "out in the cold" as far as protection
from submarines went, in spite of numerous trawlers and several
destroyers patrolling round her.

Steamboats began to come alongside, and from their midshipmen the
Honourable Mess soon learnt the news.

One midshipman told them "that the soldiers held the first two miles of
the hill beyond Suvla Point, but could not get on any farther".  "Have
they joined up with Anzac and away to the right?" they asked.  "I don’t
think so—not properly.  We haven’t advanced for the last two days."  "I
don’t know how many wounded I have taken off," said one wornout-looking
midshipman.  "That’s my job, and I’ve been at it almost day and night
for the last five days—nearly eight thousand have been taken off
altogether, I fancy."

Another snotty told them of the awful shortage of water during the first
two fateful days, and how terribly the troops had suffered.  "They
couldn’t stand it," he said.  "It was frightfully hot, and by Saturday
afternoon (they landed at 11 p.m. on Friday night) men were rushing down
to the shore and dashing into the sea, quite delirious."

The Hun in his steam pinnace came back from a trip ashore, with a story
of two shells which had fallen close to him.  "It’s like old times," he
said excitedly.

It was—exactly; exactly as it had been at Helles, in front of Krithia
and Achi Baba.

All that morning, at every opportunity, everyone went up on the after
shelter-deck, or climbed up to the main-top, to try and find the exact
position occupied by our troops and how far they had advanced.  They
gazed through their glasses at a huge amphitheatre extending from Suvla
Point right down to Anzac—six and a half miles away—shut in by that
semi-circular rampart of hills which barred the way to the other side of
the Peninsula and the Dardanelles. Down at Anzac they could trace the
maze of trenches along the slopes and spurs at that end of the rampart
of hills, and could also trace the Turkish trenches on the crest and
upper slopes.  At first they thought that these last trenches were
British; but they soon knew, by watching the shells from the _Bacchante_
bursting among them, that they were not.  Sweeping their glasses to the
left, they followed the ridge of hills as it bent round in a huge curve
some five miles and a half from shore, until they came to a dip, in
front of which was Anafarta—-just such another village as Krithia—with
its white houses and its row of windmills.  At the left end of this
village a tall minaret showed up very distinctly.  Sweeping still
farther to the left, the hills became higher, and then bent towards the
sea, until they reached within a mile of Suvla Point itself as a ridge
some 650 feet high. From this point—known as the Bench Mark—the ridge
dropped in a series of shoulders, until nothing but a gigantic backbone
of almost bare rock remained to jut out into the sea and form Suvla
Point itself. Our men had at one time reached this Bench Mark, but had
been driven back to the top of the next depression, which they still
held.  In fact, from the ship that morning the little khaki figures of
our men were very clearly seen up there on the sky-line, two and a half
miles from Suvla Point.  This advanced post was known as Jephson’s Post,
and on the land side of it the scrub-covered ground sloped down in
ridges and gullies to the plain, whilst behind, and away out of sight of
the ships, it fell very abruptly to the sea, and ended in lofty, barren

The coast-line from Suvla Point swept round in a deep curve to another
point known as Nebuchadnezzar Point[#]—a mile and a half farther towards
Anzac—and thus made Suvla Bay.  Behind Nebuchadnezzar Point lay the
little hill "Lala Baba", some 120 feet high, and just round the corner
the shore stretched in an almost straight line right down to Anzac.

[#] Its actual name is Niebruniessi Point.

It was the aristocratic Major of Marines, who had been studying the
military map, who pointed all these places out to them.  He pointed out
the guns already in position behind Lala Baba, and he showed them
"Chocolate Hill", another elevation some 160 feet high and about three
miles inland, where our people could be seen busy digging trenches, and
every now and again being sprayed with shrapnel.  Between these two
little hills lay a broad, flat area, looking like dry mud.  "That is the
Salt Lake," the Major told them. "It is dry all the summer."

Except for the people who could be seen up at Jephson’s Post, more men
moving behind a line of trenches running down the slope from that
position, and the people digging on Chocolate Hill, the only indication
of the general line we held was to be gained by watching where the
Turkish shrapnel occasionally burst.

By this time—the 12th August—after having seen so much of operations
ashore, every officer in the gun-room and ward-room had become an expert
military strategist and tactician—as you can imagine; so it was quite
unnecessary for the gallant Major of Marines—who, of course, was the
leading expert of all ("because he wore a red stripe down his trousers,"
Bubbles said)—to explain that "Anafarta village must be captured; that
this was the first thing to be done".

"I guessed that—in once," bleated the China Doll in an undertone.

"The whole success of this new operation depended on capturing Anafarta,
and the ridge behind it, by a _coup de main_," went on the Major, as
though addressing a class at Sandhurst.  "The whole situation now
demands an entire reconsideration of plans.  I must say that I feel
doubtful of ultimate success unless very heavy reinforcements arrive."
Whereupon he shut his old-fashioned telescope with a snap, and went
below, as if, from his point of view, he had washed his hands of the

Uncle Podger, the Sub, Bubbles, the Orphan, and the China Doll remained
to watch the ambulance wagons slowly trailing across the Salt Lake
towards the cluster of hospital tents to the left of Lala Baba—the First
Casualty Clearing-station—at "Wounded A" beach, and to watch the
battalions in reserve enjoying a rest under some low cliffs this side of
Lala Baba, many hundreds of men splashing merrily in the sea, undeterred
by shrapnel bursting over them at intervals.

The _Havelock_ lay at anchor quite close to these men.

"If I were running the show," the China Doll suggested confidently, "I
should——"  But how success could have been achieved will never be known,
for "eight bells" struck, lunch waited down in the gun-room, and the
China Doll knew the disadvantage of a late start, so flew away like a

Many of the gun-room officers came up again after a hasty meal, and
began examining the details of the extraordinary _Havelock_, when, all
of a sudden, a spout of water flew up close to her.

"Hello!  What’s that?  There goes another! Someone’s having a "go" at
her.  Look!  Look at those two puffs of smoke amidships!  She’s been
hit! Ah!  She’s getting under way—about time too."

Her cable came in, and she slowly moved out of the way, signalling that
three men had been wounded. One or two more spouts of water sprang up,
but then they let her alone, and the water spouts began creeping towards
the _Cornwall_—past her—over—back again—short.  The _Cornwall_ hastily
got her anchor up, and circled away from that unpleasant spot; and then
the little shells began falling quite close to the _Swiftsure_, at
anchor only some four hundred yards away from the _Achates_.

"Short!  Short again!  Hello! that hit—on her starboard quarter!  I saw
it bounce off—it’s close to her ward-room!  There’s another!  That went
in! Look!  you can see the hole—close to the water-line."

"Look!  Look!  Look!" cries came from all round—it was getting exciting
now—as three shells, one after the other, burst close to her for’ard
funnel and the smoke of them drifted away.

"She’s getting it hot.  She’ll be off in a minute. Ah, she’s shortening

They heard the _Swiftsure’s_ buglers sounding "Action".

"It will be our turn next," they laughed—a little nervously, as the
_Swiftsure_ circled away towards the line of submarine-net buoys; and,
sure enough, in a couple of minutes there came a loud, wailing, rushing
noise, which seemed to pass between the foremast and next funnel, and a
"flomp" as a shell fell into the water on the other side, some sixty
yards away.

They ducked and went down below, but not before another drawn-out wail
ended in a "flomp" a hundred yards short of the ship.  "Action Stations"
sounded, and everyone cleared away to their quarters; the China Doll,
very pale, and not enjoying himself at all, having to climb up the
rigging to the fore-control top.  He heard a shell coming, caught his
breath, clung to the ratlines, and knew it would hit him.  He heard it
"flomp" into the sea behind him; and the irritated Gunnery-Lieutenant,
coming up after him, hurried him up the rigging with angry oaths.  "Get
that range-finder uncovered.  What’s the range of that village?  Quick!
Quick!  Quick!  I’ve got nothing to fire at.  There are no orders yet."

Down on the foc’s’le the Commander, the Bos’n, and a few men were
getting up the anchor as fast as possible, and in five minutes off went
the _Achates_.

Directly these four ships began moving about, the Turks left off firing
at them and threw shells at the transports lying farther out; but these
lay at the extreme range of their guns, and that afternoon, at any rate,
they made no hits.  After a while they ceased firing, and the ships came
back and anchored. The Hun, who had been away all this time in his
steamboat, came down into the gun-room in a great state of excitement,
as a shell had fallen within ten feet of his boat.  The _Swiftsure_
presently signalled that she had five men killed and fourteen wounded.
News came from the _Grafton_, out beyond Suvla, round the northern
corner, that she too had been shelled, and had lost nine men killed and
twenty wounded—all these casualties caused by one small shell which came
down a hatchway and burst among a crowd of men gathered there.

"What a change, after six weeks of peace at Ieros!" Bubbles gurgled.  "I
don’t think much of this war. I call it rotten."

"Jolly uncivil of them—and our first day, too!" Uncle Podger said.

"Whatever rhymes with _Achates_?" asked Rawlins, whose poetical genius
had once more been roused. "’Not afraid is,’ would do, but I can’t fit
it in; or ’What a day ’tis’—that’s jolly difficult to fit in too."

The rest of the afternoon passed quietly, and that evening the
reconnoitring aeroplane which flew over from the island of Imbros—from
the aerodrome at Kephalo—reported that she had seen the Turks digging
emplacements for four big guns on the top of the ridge.

"Well, that’s not very cheering," Uncle Podger grimaced as he smoked a
pipe in the Sub’s cabin after dinner.  "If they can make us shift about
and keep under way with those small things, as they did this afternoon,
they’ll drive us out altogether with their big guns—and submarines will
be waiting for us there."

"We shall have to knock ’em out," the Sub said; "that’s all."

"We couldn’t do it at Helles; I don’t see how we are going to do it
here," Uncle Podger said.  "Did anyone see the guns that were firing at

The Sub shook his head.  "I don’t think so."

They went back into the gun-room just in time to hear the China Doll
plaintively saying: "I didn’t like going up to the top one bit; a shell
came very close to me;" and the others singing out: "What does your
carcass matter?  Wind up the gramophone and let’s have a noise!"

A most perfect night followed, and nearly everyone slept on deck; but
hardly had they been turned off the quarter-deck next morning, when
shells began whistling across the _Achates_, and off she had to go again
to get away from them.  These shells came from a 4.1-inch high-velocity
gun, and gave about three seconds "notice" before they arrived.  That
morning, for the first time, the Turks turned a 5.9-inch gun on the
shore—the same calibre gun as "Gallipoli Bill"—bursting high explosives
with their tremendous roar, abreast the ship, on what was known as "New
A" beach, a convenient little split in the rocks where most of the boats
ran in, and close to where "Kangaroo Pier" was being built.  These
shells fell almost vertically and did very little harm, but their noise
was extremely disconcerting.

That evening the battleship _Venerable_ arrived, and next day the
_Achates_ became more or less of a depot ship for the Naval transport
officers, the Harbour-master, the surveying officers, and (as Uncle
Podger said, when their midshipmen "assistants" and the midshipmen of
all the "stray" pickets came to live in her)—a "home for lost dogs".
The gun-room was again invaded by tired, weary snotties, in their grimy
Condy’s-fluid-stained uniforms, who, when they were not eating, lay
about on the leather cushions and odd corners, and slept.  The Pimple
and the China Doll were almost reduced to tears when they thought how
the gun-room stores would disappear once more.

It was a depressing day; they could not call the gun-room their own.
They heard of the fall of Warsaw; nothing seemed able to stop the German
advance through Poland and Galicia; and this new landing gave not any
hope of success.

"Oh, bother it all!  Stick another needle in, China Doll, and start that
rotten gramophone," they said.

At the mention of gramophone the Lamp-post would always slink out of the

The Turks had left them alone that day—as far as shells were concerned;
but Fritz, the submarine, evading the patrolling trawlers, let go a
torpedo at the balloon ship—the _Manica_—outside, beyond the nets.

A plaintive signal came from her that a torpedo had passed underneath
her, and a submarine had been seen from the balloon—that yellow
monstrosity waggling above her.  That meant another interval for
excitement, and a manning of the small guns in case Fritz took it into
his head to pop up his periscope anywhere near.  The balloon was hauled
down, and off went the _Manica_ to seek protection behind the "net" at
Kephalo, in Imbros Island.

More shells came along on the Sunday morning, just when the Honourable
Mess, clothed only in towels, clamoured for "next turn" at the little
baths. Again the ships had to get under way, and the _Swiftsure_
reported one hit, without casualties.  It was a quaint crowd of undraped
young officers who gathered behind the six inches of armour round Y1
casemate, and waited for the "sh—sh—plonk" of the Turks’ shells to
cease, and the bugle to sound the "carry on", before they rushed back to
complete their toilet.  Don’t imagine that the ships took their insults
"lying down". They blazed away at where the guns were reported to be, or
where they thought they were; but as you should know by now, it was
practically impossible to spot them; and, in time, everybody learnt that
the best thing to do was to plug a few shells into Anafarta village
(keeping clear of the Red Crescent flags which decorated it), where one
shrewdly expected that the Turkish Head-quarters Staff and its German
"pals" had comfortable "diggings".  A few shells there, delicately
placed, generally had the desired effect. One could almost imagine the
German Staff Officer (when shells began knocking down the houses round
him) cursing: "Gott im Himmel! it’s not good enough being bothered like
this.  Telephone to that confounded battery to leave ’em alone, till
I’ve finished my breakfast; it’s not doing any good, anyway."

That Sunday afternoon our troops tried to advance along the ridge beyond
Suvla Point, and did make some headway; but they came up against a
wretched redoubt, a thousand yards from Jephson’s Post, crammed with
machine-guns, and were brought to a standstill.

The _Talbot_ and the _Swiftsure_ did most of the covering work; but the
Turkish trenches up there, and that redoubt, were so protected by the
folds and curvatures of the hills that their high-velocity guns were
very ineffective.

When this business was finished, "Cuthbert", the hostile aeroplane, came
over from Maidos, and made a "bee-line" for the balloon ship once more.
As he approached, the _Manica_ commenced hauling down the balloon and
its observers, and simply screeched at "Cuthbert" with her maxims; but
the aeroplane did not take anything seriously, plumped down two bombs
within half a mile of her—not nearer—appeared to be perfectly content,
and went home again, followed by some very pretty shrapnel from the

There was very heavy firing on shore on the extreme left that night—all
through the night—and by the morning the soldiers had lost the ground
they had gained the day before.

In the usual "strafe" that morning, two shells hit the _Achates_ without
causing any casualties; but by now it had become thoroughly understood
that if the ships remained where they were, and did not get up anchor
and move about, the Turks would soon leave off shooting at them.  So,
from now onwards, ships seldom shifted billet during these frequent
shellings. This may have spoilt the Turks’ amusement—for it must have
been most amusing to the Turkish gunners to see them scurrying about the
harbour—but the constant shifting became too boring altogether.  The
poor old distilling ship—the _Bacchus_—and the _Ajax_, a store ship,
came in for the worst time.  The Turks had a special "down" on them
both, and seldom a day went by without them being hit, first of all with
small "stuff", and, later on, by 5.9-inch shells.

Fritz put in another appearance that Monday morning, and had another
"go" at the balloon ship—the _Hector_ this time—but something had gone
wrong, as before, with the "balance chamber" of his torpedo, and it
gracefully dived underneath her.  However, she hauled down the balloon
in a hurry—she thought the "balance chamber" of the next torpedo might
be in better working order—and inside the submarine net she came, only
to be driven out again by shells which flew chirpily over the _Achates_,
and dropped all round her.  A lucky shot in the balloon—and "finish"
that—so up came her anchor, and she pushed across to Kephalo.

On the Tuesday everyone became heartily sick of the "retire" bugle.  The
Turks seemed unusually generous that day.  They shelled the _Achates_ at
half-past six; they rested until the Honourable Mess had commenced their
breakfast, when "swish—sh—sh—flomp" went a shell just alongside, and the
wretched bugle sounded again.  At ten o’clock, at half-past twelve, and
twice during the afternoon they disturbed everyone; and when they had
packed up for the day, "Cuthbert" came along and made a most deliberate
attempt to bomb her.  She circled overhead twice, and on each occasion
dropped bombs which fell with the sounds of express trains and burst,
one about a hundred yards and the other about forty yards away.

"It’s not very restful, is it?" the little Padre said wistfully, as he
joined, for the fifth time that day, the little crowd of "idlers" who
were taking cover behind the after turret during the last spell of

It wasn’t.  The continued strain became most intensely wearisome, and
affected a great many people very noticeably.  For more than three weeks
the _Achates_ had these wretched shells coming round and over her, at
intervals, practically every day.  It was the noise of them which became
so trying—the noise, and the wondering where "that one" would hit.

Perhaps, in the gun-room, the most marked effect was the smartness with
which everyone "turned out" in the morning (they slept on the
quarter-deck), looked to see if the sun had risen behind Anafarta, and
scampered down to get his bath and be dressed before those beastly
shells came round.  Breakfast became a remarkably punctual meal, for the
Turks liked to have their little joke at half-past eight; and no one in
the gun-room, except the Sub, Bubbles, and sometimes Uncle Podger, could
stay and enjoy their food if that side of the ship swung to the shore,
and the "swish—sh—sh—flomp" of those shells came through the scuttles in
her thin side.

"Divisions", at half-past nine, had to be held out of sight, in the
battery, for the temptation always proved too great for the Turks when
they saw men falling in on the quarter-deck or fo’c’sle.

On one memorable occasion when, "divisions" having been reported correct
to Captain Macfarlane, the men were all marched aft on to the
quarter-deck for prayers, the ship’s company made one almighty "duck" as
a shell came over them and burst not ten yards away in the water.  If
eye-witnesses speak the truth, the only people who did not "duck" on
that occasion were Captain Macfarlane—who made the excuse that "he had
been rather deaf for the last few days"—and the little Padre, who
apologized most profusely that he had been so busy trying to prevent the
wind blowing his surplice round his neck, that he hadn’t noticed it.

At any rate, after that, "divisions" and prayers were held in the
battery out of sight.

The people who had the most unpleasant time were the signalmen on the
fore-bridge, the telegraphist in the "wireless" room on the
shelter-deck, and the people on watch on the quarter-deck.

"What am I to do?" the Sub growled to Uncle Podger one day.  "Here we
have half a dozen boats round the gangways, a couple of hundred men
working about the upper deck, and along comes a jumping Jimmy of a shell
and flops fifty yards short of the ship—then another, a hundred or a
couple of hundred over.  It may be all a mistake—they may be coaxing
them along to the distilling ship—and the next may fall a thousand yards
over.  How am I to know? What am I to do?  If I don’t stop work and
sound the ’retire’, then the next one will probably come ’splosh’ into
our chaps and lay half a dozen of them out.  Then what will the
Commander say?—losing his best hands perhaps; and the Skipper will want
to know why I didn’t clear ’em all off the upper deck. It’s worrying;
that’s what it is!"

"My dear chap," said Uncle Podger, "I’ll tell you exactly what I feel.
When I go on deck I am certain that those Turkish gunner chaps over
there on the hills sing out ’Hello! here comes the most valuable clerk
in the whole British Navy; any of you chaps got a spare round to have a
’pot’ at him?’  I walk up and down the quarter-deck with my ears cocked
towards the shore to hear that beastly whining swish—a shell or two will
fall in the water—those big chaps, with their infernal thunder-clap,
burst on the shore—and I gradually find myself edging away to the
hatchway, and going down to the office or the gun-room, where I can’t
hear the things so plainly.  It gets on my nerves, I can tell you that."

Whatever happens, the routine of the ship’s work must be carried on: the
decks are scrubbed; the hands fall in; they work about the upper deck,
splicing wires, scraping paintwork, repairing boats, overhauling
gear—all the thousand-and-one jobs which have to be done; boats have to
be called away, and go about their business; the meat, potatoes, and
bread have to be served out; the office work has to go on just the same;
the sick have to be attended and treated; the signalmen and upper-deck
watch keepers have to keep their watches; the men have to have their
meals and scrub the mess-decks; the cooks have to cook the ship’s
company’s food; and all these routine duties go on, either without any
protection whatever, in the open, or behind a half-inch of steel which
won’t "look at" a shell of any sort or description.  A battleship or
cruiser is designed to fight an action which may last for an hour or for
five hours, but, at the end of that time, life on board reverts to its
ordinary routine—as far as it may.  She is not intended or designed to
be constantly under shell-fire for weeks at a time.

The Pink Rat, whose nerves had never recovered from his experience at
"W" beach, frankly could not stand the spells of shelling; the China
Doll grew restless and more baby-like than ever; the Pimple was nearly
as bad; the Lamp-post hated the shells perhaps more than anyone, for he
had a most vivid imagination, but he controlled his feelings
wonderfully, and never showed the least outward sign of "nerves", except
that he became more than usually boisterous after sunset—when all was
peace.  Rawlins and Bubbles treated the whole thing as a joke.  "Don’t
think about ’em," Bubbles gurgled to the Pink Rat, "and then you won’t
worry."  The Hun did not seem to trouble so long as he had something to
do in his steam pinnace; he had to remember to live up to his D.S.C.,
too.  The Orphan, who felt he also had a reputation to keep up, worried
very little either.

The midshipmen in the boats and their crews had to carry on their usual
work at all times.  It sounds simple enough when talked about in a
comfortable chair at home; but just put yourself in the place of a
midshipman in a steamboat, with perhaps a lighter in tow, who is coming
off from shore and sees a shell burst in the water fifty yards ahead of
him, knows that another will come along in a few seconds, and has to
take his boat through the swirl made by the first shell! Or, again, he
sees a ship hit, or shells falling all round her, and has to take his
boat alongside her, and, worse still, wait alongside her.  This is what
these midshipmen and their crews had constantly to do; and when they
went inshore, shells were constantly dropping close to them, not only
the small 4.1-inch, but the big high-explosives.

The strain and the long hours caused many of these midshipmen to break
down, but there was no instance that can be brought to mind when any of
them showed the slightest sign of treating shells too "respectfully"
when on duty.

Don’t imagine that the ships themselves remained idle all this time.
One or other constantly fired at known gun positions, on enemy working
parties, at convoys, at the enemy observation posts and trenches at
Anafarta—in fact, at every target they could find or the Army point out
to them.  The monitors with long-range guns fired across at the Turkish
transports and store ships anchored in The Narrows; the big ships
constantly bombarded enemy camps and depots behind the hills, helped by
spotting aeroplanes, for, of course, they could not see where their
shells fell.  Destroyers and the "Edgar" class constantly harassed the
Turks along the coast.

                             *CHAPTER XIX*

                 *The Army again comes to a Standstill*

Nearly every night, for the first week after the arrival of the
_Achates_ at Suvla, reinforcements poured across from Mudros in
"troop-carriers", fleet-sweepers, destroyers, and small cruisers.  Among
these came the veteran 29th Division—which had been brought up to fair
strength by constant drafts from England—and also the 2nd Mounted
Division—yeomanry who came to fight as infantry.  These yeomen were men
of such magnificent physique that the Syrian interpreter on board the
_Achates_ told the Orphan that, though the pick of the Greek, Serbian,
Bulgarian, and Turkish armies had come frequently under his observation,
he had never seen such fine troops as these.

One more attempt was to be made to advance and, if possible, gain
possession of Anafarta.

But to reach Anafarta, and the gap in the great semicircle of hills
behind it, a whole series of smaller slopes and ridges, spurs and
shoulders of the main hills, had to be seized first.  Even without
preparation for defence they formed a tremendous obstacle, and by this
time the Turks had been digging and burrowing and wiring them, day and
night, for a whole fortnight.

From the main-top of the _Achates_, on the 20th August, these small
ridges and slopes looked as though a huge colony of moles had been at
work on them, and when the sun sank low over Imbros the barbed wire in
front of these "mole runs" made glittering streaks along them.

A terrible task it was, as everyone knew.

However, one little hill, somewhat detached from the main line of
defence, projected into the plain towards Chocolate Hill.  This was Hill
70, perhaps better known as "Scimitar Hill" from a broad, sweeping,
burnt patch running up the near slope.  If this hill could be stormed
and held, it would assist further attacks on the main position.

The 29th Division were told off to capture it.

On Saturday, the 21st August, all dispositions were completed, and a
little before two o’clock in the afternoon the four ships, the
_Venerable_, _Swiftsure_, _Talbot_, and _Achates_, which had previously
anchored in single line ahead, as close to the shore as possible,
bombarded Scimitar Hill, "W" ridge beyond it, and every known or
probable enemy gun position.  The Army heavy guns assisted.

In a very short time the Turks had to abandon many of their trenches;
and if only it had been possible to continue bombarding until the
attacking infantry had almost reached those trenches, the 29th Division
might have stormed them without much loss.

But this was not possible.  For one thing, the range was too great—over
four miles—to make certain of not hitting our own troops.  The ships had
to cease fire, and thus gave time for the Turks to rush back to their
trenches and bring their machine-guns along with them.

As the 29th Division advanced, some thirty or forty enemy guns opened on
them with shrapnel and high explosives; and though a brigade stormed
Scimitar Hill, its losses were so great that the remnant who gained the
crest could not hold it against the tremendous whirlwind of fire from
the higher ridges beyond and a fierce counter-attack.

Farther along, to the right, the remainder of the 29th Division and the
11th Division, attacking the southerly spurs of "W" ridge, gained a
footing on them, but could not reach the crest.

The flat ground over which they had just advanced with such heavy loss
was thickly covered with scrub and trees, and the high-explosive shells
bursting among them quickly set this scrub alight in several places.
These fires much hampered the rapid bringing up of supports.

At the commencement of the action, that division of dismounted yeomanry
whose physique and bearing had so roused the admiration of all, was held
in reserve behind Lala Baba, and rested there, in full view from the
ships.  At about half-past two or three o’clock these yeomen fell in,
circled round the flank of Lala Baba, extended as they gained the open
mud-flats of the Salt Lake, and commenced to advance across it towards
Chocolate Hill.  The Turkish gunners saw them almost immediately, and
burst hundreds of shrapnel over their heads.  No "gunners" could ask for
a better target than these poor fellows made, and for twenty minutes
they suffered terribly, without any hesitation or faltering in their
ranks.  To those who watched them from the main-top of the _Achates_, it
was a wonderful relief when they gained the cover of the trees and thick
scrub near Chocolate Hill and the shrapnel began to leave them alone.

Abreast the _Achates_, and some half-mile from the beach, was a little
green mound, dignified with the name of "Hill 10" on the military map.
On the rear slope of this, a field-gun battery had been very active all
the afternoon, and presently the Turks thought it about time to put a
stop to this.  They turned one or two 5.9-inch guns on to Hill 10, and
simply plastered it with high-explosive shells, bursting them with their
horrid, rending thunder-claps every few seconds among the field-guns and
the limbers in rear.  For half an hour those field-guns pluckily went on
firing, but they did not know where the big shells were coming
from—nobody did—so none of the ships could help them, and at length they
were compelled to cease fire and the gunners to take shelter.

"What are they?  New Army or Territorials?" asked Uncle Podger.  None
knew; but, whoever they were, they put up a most plucky fight.

By five o’clock the smoke from the bush fires obscured the whole field
of battle between Chocolate and Scimitar Hills, and, though the rattle
of musketry and machine-guns went on continuously, no more of the fight
could be seen from the _Achates_—only the ambulance wagons coming across
the Salt Lake, and the stretcher-parties clearing away the wounded

By dusk the flames of these bush fires showed up plainly, and as
darkness fell on that fateful day they lighted up the whole plain,
Chocolate Hill and Lala Baba standing out black against them.  They
burnt fiercely, the flames eating their way along the plain, running
this way, then that; and on board ship one could only grimly conjecture
what was happening to the helpless wounded cut off by them—and keep the
horrors of one’s thoughts to oneself, if one could.

Fighting went on all that night; and by dawn the attacking divisions had
fallen back to their original positions in front of Chocolate Hill,
except on the right, where the 11th Division maintained a point some six
hundred yards in advance.

From that day no serious attempt was made to advance, and the idea of
forcing a way across to the Dardanelles was for all practical purposes
abandoned. From now onwards, trench warfare commenced, and continued
until the definite abandonment of The Great Adventure.

All that Saturday afternoon and all that Saturday night a continual
stream of wounded were brought to "Wounded A" beach, attended to, and as
fast as possible sent off to hospital ships.  The Hun with his steam
pinnace, and a couple of boats in tow, helped cope with the enormous
amount of work.  At dawn next morning the Orphan relieved him, and by
Sunday night very nearly six thousand wounded had been evacuated.  They
all went to hospital ships, but only the serious cases and the severe
leg injuries stayed there.  The others, who could walk, crossed over the
hospital ships from one side to the other, and went down into trawlers
waiting alongside.  These, when full, steamed across to Kephalo, on
Imbros Island, and landed them there.

It now became generally understood that the Germans and Austrians
intended to break through Serbia, march across Bulgaria, and join hands
with the Turks. The Bulgarians were much more likely to assist than
resist them; and it did not require any great strain on the mental
powers of the military experts in the gun-room to enable them to realize
that, once the Turks obtained heavy guns and an ample supply of
ammunition, they could drive us and the French off the Peninsula.

It was anything but a pleasant prospect, especially with the autumn fast
approaching, and the fierce winter gales which would make the landing of
stores impossible.

A peaceful three days followed this battle of the 21st August.  The
Turks had probably expended all their ammunition and were busy
replenishing their magazines.  At any rate, three days later they
shelled the harbour and the ships very lavishly.  The _Venerable_ had a
man killed and some wounded, and the _Swiftsure_ had a man wounded by a
fragment of a shell which burst on the _Venerable’s_ fo’c’sle.  From
this date they always managed to spare the ships a few rounds—at the
usual hours—every day.  They killed an unfortunate stoker in the
_Achates_ soon after this.  The crew were at "Action Stations", and he
had gone on to the mess-deck to make certain that his fire-hose had been
screwed on properly, when a shell coming in through the side (it
actually burst on the edge of a scuttle) took off his head.

They then attempted a night attack on our left flank.  Firing burst out
suddenly one night just after eight o’clock, and though the Honourable
Mess had not yet reached the "pudding" stage of their dinner they rushed
up on deck to see what was happening—all of them.  That fact alone
proves that the noise of rifles, machine-guns, and shells must have been

A most brilliant spectacle this firing made.  Many young officers in the
trenches, on both sides, kindly contributed hundreds of pretty star
shells; the Turks burst a very large number of shrapnel most
picturesquely; the destroyer _Grampus_, out beyond the bay, lighted up
the ridge near the Bench Mark with her search-light; the army field-guns
did what they could to aid the display, and the _Swiftsure_ obliged with
four rounds of 7.5-inch shrapnel to give _éclat_ to the occasion.

From a pyrotechnic point of view the scene from the quarter-deck of the
_Achates_ could not have been improved, nor could the orchestra of
rifles, field-guns, maxims, and trench bombs.

But the attack evidently lacked backbone.  Rifle-firing raged up and
down the lines, but it never reached the pitch of inarticulate firing
and determination which marked those night attacks at Helles.  As a
matter of fact, the Turks never left their trenches; and even before the
laconic signal came from shore: "Situation well in hand", that
well-known military expert, the China Doll, not seeing in the dark that
Captain Macfarlane happened to be standing next to him, lisped out:
"That’s nothing; it’s nothing like those other shows at "W" beach; they
don’t mean anything; I’m going down to finish dinner."  Captain
Macfarlane thanked him very gravely: "I am much obliged to you, Mr.
Stokes" (which perhaps you remember was the China Doll’s name), "you
have relieved my anxieties immensely."  The wretched China Doll
disappeared down the hatchway like a shot rabbit.

Now there was a cocksure young subaltern of the New Army at Suvla to
whom the whole art of warfare had become an open book.  He claimed
relationship with the Lamp-post, and, on the strength of that, came off
at times to get a decent meal and a bath.  There was also a certain
5.9-inch gun hidden away somewhere near Anafarta which enjoyed throwing
high-explosive shells into the "so-called" "Rest Camp", and this young
officer had suffered frequent annoyance from them.  He became a little
peevish, and made sarcastic remarks about naval gunnery not much to the
liking of the Honourable Mess, especially one day when the _Swiftsure_
had nearly broken her Gunnery-Lieutenant’s susceptible heart by not
knocking out this particular gun after some fifteen rounds.  They
explained gently to him that the gun could not be seen from the ships,
and that, at five and a half miles, firing at
"where-it-was-thought-to-be" did not give much chance of hitting it.

One afternoon, when he happened to be aboard, a French aeroplane, with
engine troubles, planed down to the beach beyond Lala Baba, and could
not get away.  She had not been there for ten minutes when the Turks
commenced dropping shell round her.

"Now you’ll see how easy it is," the Lamp-post said ironically.
"Remember, the Turks can see that aeroplane—they can see it with the
naked eye. We can’t see ’Anafarta Annie’ through a telescope."  Well,
they counted more than a hundred and fifty shell—shrapnel and
common—fired within the next thirty-five minutes, and the aeroplane
appeared not to have been touched.

At least they thought the "Young Friend" might apologize, but he only
laughed: "Well, at any rate, you Navy chaps aren’t the rottenest shots
in the world."

"I do hope ’Annie’ drops one in his ’dug-out’," the Hun said angrily,
when he went ashore.  "Don’t you ever ask him off again, Lamp-post, or
we’ll work the gramophone at meals."

"I never do ask him; he comes," the Lamp-post smiled.

"Annie", so the Observation Post nearest to Anafarta reported, lived in
a tunnel or deep gully, and when her crew wanted to do a "hate" they ran
her out on rails, fired her, and ran her back again.  It was also said
that if shells fell anywhere near her, the crew used to run across to a
little white house about a hundred and fifty yards away, and take cover
there.  So one morning the Gunnery-Lieutenant of the _Swiftsure_, always
ready to woo a fair lady, "went" for her; and when he thought her crew
had probably run her back into her tunnel and gone across to their cosy
little white house, he peppered that with 14-pounder shells.  No one can
go on with this game—at five and a half miles—for ever; and when the
_Swiftsure_ ceased firing, "Annie’s" crew, appreciating the humour of it
all, ran back to her, fetched her out (presumably), and dropped half a
dozen high-explosive shells among the mules and stacks of bully-beef
boxes above "A" beach.

They were full of noisy humour, these Turks; but what did jar on their
nerves was the sight of a battleship or cruiser coaling.  They objected
most strongly, and always burst shrapnel over, and dropped shell at the
"coaling" ship directly the collier had come alongside and she had
commenced that dirty job.

They also had a rooted objection to the _Arno_, a trim little destroyer
attached to the General Headquarters Staff; and whenever she anchored
inside the "net" they did their best to make her feel uncomfortable.
She might have always had the General Head-quarters Staff on board, to
judge by the persistent way they plugged at her.

And as for Jephson’s Post, up there on the top of the ridge, on the
left, they took a positive dislike to it and to the Naval Observation
Station, just below it.  This Observation Station was manned by some
naval ratings and two naval officers—a gaunt, hawk-like Commander and a
Lieutenant-Commander belonging to other ships.  These two took duty in
turns—three days "on" and three days "off".  The three days "off" they
spent on board the _Achates_, sleeping most of the time.

This post was constantly under fire from heavy and light guns.  It also
received all the "overs" and the stray bullets fired from the Turks,
farther along the ridge, at Jephson’s Post and the trenches in front of
it, so it was not at all a "health" resort.

"The view in the early morning is charming," said one of the Observation
officers; "and but for the fact that I’m certain there’s a dead mule or
a dead ’something’ among the bushes somewhere near—has been there for
the last fortnight—and that we get something like thirty to forty shell
over it every day—often more—it wouldn’t be half bad."

Another Naval Observation Station had been established on Chocolate
Hill, and to visit either of these positions made exciting afternoon
walks and climbs, whenever any of the Honourable Mess ventured ashore.
On one occasion the Lamp-post and the Orphan landed at "A West" beach
one afternoon, and walked up to the Observation Post near Jephson’s
Post.  Pretty hard going it was, under the hot sun and along the sandy
mule-track which wound up the lower slopes among the concealed
field-guns. Then they had to climb along a steep path, with a parapet on
the enemy side, till they came to the second line of trenches, and heard
the intermittent sniping close to them.  In the morning the Post had
been severely shelled, and they found the Commander lying flat on the
ridge, some forty yards away from it, behind a natural parapet of rocks,
reinforced by some sand-bags, his telephone box close to him.

"You must have had a warm time of it this morning, sir," they said

"That was all right.  I was here all the time. There wouldn’t have been
much left of me if I had stayed there.  Come along and see."  He took
them back below the ridge, climbed up to the rear of the Post—a little
three-sided affair, partly made out of large stones and sand-bags piled
on each other, partly of natural rocks, with a timber and sand-bag roof
over it all.

"Pretty untidy, isn’t it, here?  You can have the base of that shell—one
of this morning’s little lot; if you hunt round, you’ll find another
somewhere, I expect.  They keep their eye on this place; I shouldn’t
wonder if they are watching us now.  Let’s put back some of these rock

The front parapet had been partially knocked down that morning, so that
the "observing" loophole was now four or five feet wide.  If they could
see him when there was only a small loophole, thought the Lamp-post,
they’ll be able to see us, all right, now. They had just finished piling
up the last of the stones and sand-bags in their old places—-more or
less—when the accustomed ears of the Commander caught the sound of a
Turkish gun.

"That’s my gun!" he cried, throwing himself down. "Lie down.  That will
be short," he said coolly, as they heard the "swish—h—h" of an
approaching shell.  "Short, not very; keep down, some of the bits may
come in."

"Whump" burst the shell about thirty yards below them, and something
rattled against the parapet they had just built up.  The stinging smell
of smoke came in through the crevices.

"Scoot out of it!" the Commander said, scrambling to his feet, and
taking them down to where they had found him at first—soldiers dashing
for cover all along the ridge.  "Keep close in behind those rocks," he
said, as they lay down, and he peered out between his sand-bags.

"I thought so.  The same two old guns, on the far side of the ’Rectory
Field’.  They’ve shifted ’em since the morning.  They’ve fired again.
They keep those two especially for my benefit."

"Whump" burst a shell, then another, up along the ridge, somewhere close
to the Observation Post, whilst the hawk-like Commander rapidly took
"angles" with his sextant, and examined the squares and dots on his
military map.

Then he rang up the Naval Observation Post, and giving them the new
position of the guns told them to ask _Swiftsure_ to try a few rounds.

"Keep down!" he sang out to the two boys. "Snuggle up to those rocks.
Those chaps sometimes try lower down the slope."

During the next quarter of an hour some fifteen or sixteen shells burst
close to the old Observation Post, and the Orphan wriggled to a place
where he could look down, across the harbour, to where the _Swiftsure_,
_Venerable_, and _Achates_ lay.  They did look small.

"Hello! there goes one from the _Swiftsure_," he cried, and wriggled
farther round to see if its shell went anywhere near those guns that had
been firing.

"Twenty yards short—good shot!" the Commander sang out.  "They’ll fire
another, if either of the guns are loaded——  Yes—there they go—keep
down! Then they’ll pack up."

"B-r-r—whomp" burst a shell, just as the _Swiftsure_ fired again, and
they watched for her shell to burst. "I believe that’s a hit; if it
wasn’t, it was jolly close. Go up and see what damage they have done;
it’s perfectly safe now."

The two midshipmen scrambled to their feet and made their way up to the
old Observation Post, whilst the Commander busied himself with the

"My aunt!  Look, Lampy!" sang out the Orphan, who reached it first.
"Jolly lucky that we didn’t stay!"

They had a difficulty in crawling in, because two of the balks of timber
had been blown down at one end.  All those stones and sand-bags they had
replaced twenty minutes ago lay scattered on the ground—some outside
among the bushes, others inside.  In one torn and half-emptied sand-bag
they found the fuse of the shell which had apparently done the damage.
It was still warm.

"Oh, look! there’s your stick!  You must have left it.  Look!  That will
be a bit of a curio, won’t it?"

"It isn’t mine; it’s the Pink Rat’s," the Lamp-post grinned, as he
picked up the two pieces.  "I wish it had been mine."

They took the broken pieces and went back to the Commander.  "They’ve
knocked it about no end, sir.  It’s lucky we didn’t stay there.  You’ll
have to give it up, won’t you, sir?"

"Oh no!  rather not.  I shall use it again to-morrow; but I shan’t touch
it—leave it just as it is.  Probably I’ll put some sand-bags here, where
they can see them, and let them pot at this place instead.  Come along,
we’ll give you a drop of tea, down in my ’dug-out’.  The _Swiftsure_ has
finished firing."

"Did she hit either of them?" they asked.

"Went jolly close," he said.  "I rather fancy she did hit one, but it’s
very difficult to say for certain."

The Commander’s "dug-out" was some fifty yards below the crest of the
ridge, and out of sight of Suvla Bay and the plain of Anafarta.  From it
the Lamp-post looked over the Gulf of Zeros, the Bulgarian and Turkish
coast-lines, and, on the left, the lofty island of Samothrace, rearing
its crest above the clouds. Down in the sea at his feet—some five
hundred feet below him—the _Grampus_, destroyer, steamed slowly along to
protect the extreme left flank of the army, which extended from behind
Jephson’s Post to the actual beach.  Beyond her, either the _Grafton_ or
the _Theseus_ came slowly along towards Suvla Point, pushing through the
glittering water.  Trawlers and drifters, with their reddish-brown
mizzen-sails giving a peaceful and home-like appearance to the beautiful
view, patrolled very, very slowly the stretches of the Gulf between
Samothrace and the Peninsula.

From this "dug-out" the ground sloped very abruptly to the sea, its
surface composed of scattered rocks interspersed with coarse bushes.
The bivouacs of the brigade in reserve were here, and hundreds of men
lay about smoking, talking, and mending their clothes, or fast asleep.
Bathing parties went down to the sea, chattering noisily, or scrambled
back, half naked, to dry themselves in the sun.

As the two snotties drank their tea, two men on stretchers were carried
past, on their way to a Dressing Station, a little way below and to the
left.  One man smoked a cigarette and looked quite cheery; the head of
the other lay back oddly on the stretcher, with that horrid grey colour
on his face—he was dead.

"Have another cup of tea?  I’m sorry there’s no cake," the Commander
said.  "Those infernal snipers get some fifteen or twenty of our chaps
up here every day.  They paint themselves green—their hands and
faces—dress up in green clothes, or fix themselves up in twigs and
leaves.  They’re plucky chaps, I must say. We found one chap, down in
the plain, the other day, over there"—and he jerked his thumb up the
ridge towards Anafarta—"we found him half a mile inside our lines, up a
tree, lashed to a branch.  One of our chaps happened to be walking back
from the trenches, and walked right under the tree; thought he heard a
noise, looked up and saw him.  Luckily he had his rifle, so he shot him,
but had to climb the tree and cut him clear before the body fell to the
ground.  On one side of that Turk hung a basket with a few figs in it,
and on the other side a basket full of cartridge cases.  Most of them
were empty, so that he must have had a pretty good ’run’ for his money."

A messenger came to say that the Turks were commencing their usual
evening "hate" on the beaches and ships.  "Well, you’d better get along
back," he said.  "Now, don’t play the fool.  For the first few hundred
yards past the Observation Post you will be in full view of their
firing-trench along the ridge; so don’t loiter.  I must be off to see
whether any of those guns have shifted since yesterday.  Good-bye!"

So back they went, with the base of one shell, the fuse of another, and
that broken stick belonging to the Pink Rat.  As they neared the beach,
big shells kept dropping on it, so they waited a little while before
going down to "A West".  A friendly A.S.C. sergeant invited them into
his roomy "dug-out"; and luckily they did go in, for shrapnel began
bursting very close, and an empty case buried itself in some ground
between two lines of mules, not twenty yards away.

Flies had been bad up in the Commander’s "dug-out". Here they were ten
times worse—worse even than they had been before they left "W" beach at
Cape Helles.

Having added to their trophies that empty shrapnel case (the A.S.C.
sergeant had sent across a couple of Indians belonging to his transport
column to dig it up), and the firing having ceased, they presently found
themselves in the Hun’s steam pinnace, on their way off to the ship.

You can imagine that these two young officers had a good deal to talk
about when they did get on board. Neither of them had much chance of
going ashore, because, after the first few days, so many of the original
midshipmen of the "stray" boats broke down and had to be sent back to
their ships, that they were almost constantly employed in steam-boats.

There were the "night patrols", when they steamed, up and down, along
the line of submarine-net buoys, from sunset to sunrise—fearfully
tedious and monotonous work, only enlivened by the very occasional
submarine "scares".  Some trawler or drifter—out beyond—would think she
had seen one, and fire two Very’s lights; and then there would be a
hustle and a bustle, and the patrolling picket-boats with their maxims
would dash up and down, in case Fritz came along, and they could get a
shot at his periscope.  For some days the Orphan had to take charge of
the Harbour-master’s picket-boat, and used to spend most of his nights
outside the nets, often in a lumpy, unpleasant sea, meeting
troop-carriers coming across with reinforcements, or store ships—all
according to programme—and imploring their Captains to go _between_ the
two lights on the buoys at the submarine-net "gate"; not that the
troop-carriers ever made mistakes—they had had too much practice—but
some of these store ships seemed incapable of coming in without fouling
the net, picking up some of it with their screws, and giving twenty-four
hours’ work hacking it clear and then repairing it.  Most of the
daylight hours during that time the Orphan spent in sleep, but not all
by a long chalk, for things were always going wrong with a line of
lighters supporting some borrowed torpedo-nets, and the Harbour-master
was always wanting to go along and see what could be done.  As these
lighters were constantly being shelled, this was a most unpleasant job.

One evening, after snatching a couple of hours’ sleep, he found that a
3-pounder gun had been mounted in the bows of his boat, and the usual
maxim taken away.

"Hello!" he said to the coxswain.  "What’s this for?"

"I fancy we’re going to hunt for Fritz to-night, sir."

"Why, has he been round to-day?"

"He fired a torpedo at the _Jonquil_ this afternoon, sir; somewhere
round the left flank, sir."

When the Orphan climbed on board to find out more news, he ran across
the Sub on the quarterdeck.

"Hello, my jumping Jimmy!  I was looking for you.  We’ve got to go away
to-night and see if Fritz goes to sleep in Ejelmar Bay—about seven miles
along the coast, round Suvla Point.  He’s been making a nuisance of
himself again.  What kind of a coxswain have you?"

"Not particularly good," the Orphan said.  "He’s not very fond of

"Hum!  I suppose we can’t change him," the Sub said, scratching his
head.  "I’ve got Bowditch, the gunner’s mate, coming along to run the
3-pounder, so that will be all right."  Then, bursting with excitement,
he thumped the Orphan’s chest.  "My perishing Orphan!  Just fancy if we
bag a submarine!"

"Promotion for you, too," grinned the Orphan.

"I hadn’t thought of that," beamed the Sub. "Wouldn’t that be grand?"

They were interrupted by a signalman running aft. "Hostile aeroplane,
sir!" he called out.  The "guard call" sounded, and the marines began
tumbling up the hatchways with their rifles.

It was "Cuthbert", the aeroplane, coming along for his evening visit;
but this time he was not bothering his head about the ships at Suvla,
but flew past at a great height, evidently off to Kephalo, in Imbros
Island, twelve miles across the water, to try and drop a bomb on the
aerodromes there, or on the General Headquarters Camp.

"We aren’t going away until nearly midnight," the Sub said, as they
watched "Cuthbert" growing smaller and smaller.  Suddenly there was a
shout of "Hello!  One of ours is after him!  Look!  He’s heading him

Sure enough, they saw another dot against the blue sky rapidly closing
"Cuthbert", who had evidently seen him and swerved to the right.

As far as they could see, the English aeroplane was the higher of the
two, though a long distance separated them.

"Hello!  Look there!  He’s coming back!  Look! He’s dropped his bombs"
(two spouts of water flew up on the sea).  "He’ll get away now!"

With the weight of the bombs "off" him, "Cuthbert" came back very fast,
and presently the English machine gave up the long, stern chase and
turned back to Kephalo.

"Well, they stopped him dropping bombs there," the Orphan grinned.

Just before midnight—pitch-dark it was—the Sub, the Orphan, and
Bowditch, the gunner’s mate, climbed down into the picket-boat and
pushed off. They steamed outside, turned to the right, and, half an hour
later, met the _Grampus_ destroyer—the left-flank-guard destroyer—who
piloted them along the coast-line for some seven miles.  Then she
stopped. Her skipper shouted across, through a megaphone: "We’re right
opposite it now.  Off you go.  I’ll wait for you."

In they went—very slowly, to prevent making a noise, and so as not to
bump anything in the dark—eventually finding themselves in a bay, with
high cliffs all round it.  Here the darkness was more intense than ever,
and all was absolutely silent.  They "felt" round the cliffs at one
side, going dead slow, but not a trace of Fritz could they find.  Then
they pushed across to the opposite cliff, where there was a lighter
patch—probably a break in the cliffs—and just as they had searched this
other side, a most startling crackling of musketry burst out from the
direction of that lighter patch, and bullets fairly hummed round their
ears.  The coxswain put his helm hard over as the Sub roared for the
engines to go full speed ahead, and the picket-boat naturally began
turning a circle, and would have headed for the foot of the cliffs in a
moment or two, had not the Orphan swung the helm back again.  The Sub,
coming back from the bows, where he and Bowditch had been "standing by"
the 3-pounder and looking for Fritz, took the wheel from him, and
steered out into the open.

"My! but that was warm," the Sub said, drawing a deep breath.  "That was
the hottest bit of fire I’ve had yet; it beats Ajano.  I’ve never heard
so many bullets at the same time.  Phew!  One lucky shot, and the boat
might have been disabled."

"We don’t have much luck, do we?" the Orphan said, when he had recovered
his normal state of mind.

"No, we don’t.  Still, there wasn’t a submarine there—of that I’m
certain.  We were sent to find that out—so never mind.  Phew!  That was
hotter than I liked it—it was.  I can’t think how they missed us."

The _Grampus_ escorted the picket-boat back to Suvla Point, and just
after the sun had risen and the hands had been turned out, she ran under
the stern of the _Achates_, and the Sub and the Orphan climbed up the

The Lamp-post, with a relief crew, stood waiting to take over the

"No luck, Lampy; nothing doing," the Orphan said.  But his pal was too
interested watching the colour effect of the sunrise on the mountain top
of Samothrace—to the right of Imbros—and made the tired Orphan look at
it too.  "Bother old Samothrace, Lampy!  I want something to eat.  I
hope they won’t start shelling _us_" (a big shell had just burst on the
beach, opposite the ship) "till I’ve had a bath and my breakfast.  Where
are you going?"

"They ran a lighter ashore at ’C’ beach last night, and I’ve to go and
clear her, and try to get her off."

"C" beach was round Nebuchadnezzar Point, out of sight behind Lala Baba,
and the Turks shelled most things that went there—at any odd hour of the

"Poor old Lampy!  They’ll start shelling you directly you go there—they
did me yesterday. Bath—breakfast—sleep—that’s what I’m going to do.
Nighty!  Nighty!"

"Swish-sh-sh—flom-p" went a shell, half-way between the distilling ship
and the _Achates_.

"R-r-r-omp" burst a high explosive on the beach. Another shell, falling
into the water close to the _Achates_, burst, and the smoke drifted
along the surface to her bows.

"Bugler!  Bugler!  Sound the ’Retire’!" sang out Mr. Meredith, on watch.
"Get away in that boat of yours," he told the Lamp-post, as the old crew
came up the jumping-ladder, and the relief crew waited to take their
place.  "Coal and water her when this ’show’s’ finished."

"Good luck to ’C’ beach and the lighter, old Lampy!  Don’t duck when
they come along.  Nighty! Nighty!" the Orphan called out to him, and
went below, as another wailing swish sighed through the air over the

Outside X2 casemate the China Doll leant against the thin armour, with
his sponge and soap in his hand and a towel round him.  "Where are those
horrid shell dropping?  Anywhere near us?" he asked, blinking his eyes.

The Pink Rat, inside the casemate, looked very miserable.  "Any luck,
Orphan?" he asked nervously.

"I’m going to ’bag’ your baths.  I’m so sleepy I can’t wait till these
silly old Turks have finished," the Orphan said, and sang out for Barnes
to get him a cup of tea.

It was now four weeks since the night of the Suvla landing, and, as you
have heard, flies were more of a plague on shore than they had been when
the _Achates’_ midshipmen left "W" beach.  They swarmed on board the
ships.  Bubbles declared that you could see them sitting along the
gunwales of every boat that came off from the beach, and that directly
it got alongside they flew on board and made themselves at home.  The
Honourable Mess presented the China Doll with a "swatter", and made him
spend most of his waking hours killing flies in the gun-room, but the
more he killed the more flew in through the scuttles or from the
mess-deck.  Both in the ward-room and the gun-room the noise of the fly
"swatters" went on continuously all through the daylight hours.

Dysentery commenced to rage throughout the Army; and whether the flies
brought it off from shore or whether they did not, dysentery commenced
to break out among the ships’ companies, especially among those men who
worked in boats, or those living ashore—signalmen and beach-party
men—all who were frequently in contact with the soldiers.  The Pink Rat,
grown visibly thinner, and the Hun both went on the sick-list.  They lay
in cots on the half-deck, but had often to turn out and get behind the
armour, on one or other of the casemates, when the Turks’ shells began
whistling over the skylight above them.  They lived chiefly on condensed
milk—"poor brutes", as the China Doll said sympathetically.

So many of those "stray" snotties who had lodged in the _Achates_ had by
now been sent back to their own ships, ill, that the Honourable Mess had
the gun-room almost to themselves again.  Nor had those precious stores
been seriously raided this time, so they had no real grievance.

At last the _Achates_ herself received orders to return to Mudros to
coal and "rest"; and on the 6th September she slipped out through the
submarine "gate" after dark, left the twinkling camp-fires of Suvla
behind her, and steamed through the double row of submarine nets at
Mudros early next morning.

                              *CHAPTER XX*

                         *Hard Work at Mudros*

The _Achates_ had not been at Mudros for nearly three months and a half,
and during this period the appearance of the shores on either side of
the harbour had changed very greatly indeed.  Where, previously, fifty
tents or marquees had stood, there were now thousands—multitudes of
them—the French on the east, the British on the west side.  The French,
anticipating a winter campaign, had already built rows of wooden
barrack-huts; the British had begun to do so.

Stone and brick buildings for offices, workshops, and store-houses, a
narrow-gauge railway with petrol-driven engines, electric generating
stations, half a dozen substantial piers, and miles and miles of
roads—all had been built since the end of April.  In the harbour itself
lay more transports, store ships, colliers, oil ships, and water-tank
ships than before the first landing.  A line of French battleships faced
a line of British.  Monitors big and monitors little, cruisers, scouts,
and sloops off duty, coaled, provisioned, and rested prior to returning
to their bombarding or submarine-hunting jobs.  Up in a corner, near
Mudros West, and opposite Turkish Pier, lay the _Blenheim_, the mother
ship of destroyers, surrounded by those of her children off duty.  At
another part of the harbour the submarines, resting after having come
down from the Sea of Marmora through the nets across the Dardanelles, or
preparing calmly to go up there again, nestled alongside the _Adamant_.
Two or three white hospital ships were at anchor inside the harbour;
eight or nine out beyond the nets at the entrance.  Among all these
puffed and snorted a great number of motor-lighters, the
"water-beetles"—doing all the work of moving troops and stores, and
doing it marvellously well.  In fact, it is difficult to imagine how the
work would have gone on without them.

The first day of her "rest" the _Achates_ coaled, and on the second took
in provisions from the little _Dago_. This little steamer ran between
Malta and Mudros with frozen meat and vegetables for the fleet.  She
also at times brought the private stores ordered by the gun-room
messman, so that the Honourable Mess had a warm spot in their hearts for

That week’s rest extended for nearly two months and a half.  During this
time, so many of the officers and men were employed away from the ship
that the _Achates_ became immobilized, and did not take her turn for
"guard" duties or as "emergency" ship. Every morning sometimes as many
as two hundred and fifty of her men were called for by the
"water-beetles", and taken away to coal leviathan transports, or to dig
up rubble and load it into some steamers which were being prepared to be
sunk as breakwaters off the various beaches on the Peninsula.  The big
steamer _Oruba_ presently arrived, and the _Achates_ had the job of
dismantling her and preparing her to be sunk at Kephalo.

Those coaling jobs did not appeal to the snotties, though even they had
their compensations, as the Orphan proved when he came back from coaling
the _Mauretania_ for three whole days, dirty and tired, but with tales
of pleasant meals on board her, and hugely proud because he had managed
to buy two boxes of kippers and one of haddock.

For a whole week, each of the Honourable Mess had a kipper or a haddock
for breakfast, and Bubbles considered that "it wasn’t such a rotten war
after all".

The Pink Rat about this time finally broke down, and had to be sent to
the naval hospital ship _Soudan_ with a recurrence of his old "W beach"
dysentery. He never rejoined the _Achates_, and on the broad shoulders
of Bubbles devolved his light duties as "senior snotty".

Flies were troublesome, but not so bad as at Suvla, and the weather
remained gloriously fine until the end of October.

Every evening after "seven-bell" tea, whenever it was possible to obtain
a boat—a whaler or a gig—as many of the Honourable Mess as could get
away would pull or sail down to the harbour entrance, land, cross over a
narrow neck of land near the wireless station, and bathe in a delightful
little cove; afterwards they would kick a football about on some level
ground there, and sail or pull back with grand appetites for dinner.
Why the China Doll was never drowned on those expeditions it is
difficult to explain.

Two football grounds had been made, quite close to this "wireless"
station, and the use of them was given to each ship in turn—two matches
a day on each. So, often the ward-room and gun-room combined to play the
officers of other ships; often, too, the men arranged matches between
different parts of the ship—Bubbles and his fo’c’sle men—the Orphan and
the Sub with their foretop men—the War Baby and his marines—the
Lamp-post and Rawlins with their quarter-deck men.

Many good games they had, and if only there had been any cheering news,
this period would have been a very pleasant one.  But nothing went well
anywhere.  The great "push" in Flanders and France had come to a full
stop; the Russians only just managed to keep the Germans from
advancing—in fact, but for the approach of winter, people wondered
whether they could keep them out of Petrograd (no one could get used to
that name), and whilst the Germans and Austrians swept across the Danube
into Serbia, the Bulgarians poured across the eastern frontier.  Troops
in thousands, French and British, had been rushed across to Salonica,
but Greece still "sat on the fence"; she would not help, and the French
and British arrived too late to prevent Serbia being overwhelmed.  No
attempt had been made on the Peninsula to advance; and dysentery raged
in the army—thousands of cases being taken away every week.  The number
of German submarines in the Mediterranean had become more numerous, and
the area to patrol with trawlers, destroyers, scouts, and sloops was so
vast that the difficulties of suppressing them grew enormously.  One
thing alone was satisfactory: enough stores had been landed on the
various beaches to maintain the army there, at a "pinch", for six
weeks—long enough to tide over any probable period of bad weather, when
landing might be impossible. There was also a certain satisfaction in
seeing the constant stream of ships which came in through the harbour
entrance every morning, and to know that they had safely run the
gauntlet of the submarines; but everyone realized that "The Great
Adventure" had failed, and that to maintain the army in its present
precarious footing on the Peninsula was causing an immense drain on the
resources of British shipping, without any apparent disadvantage to the

One bright spot cheered everyone—the deeds of our own submarines in the
Sea of Marmora.  But for them, the prestige of the Allies in the East
would have fallen to a very low ebb at that time.

By the middle of October "all white" uniform changed to "all blue", and
this marked the commencement of cooler weather.

Lord Kitchener arrived early in November, inspected all the army
"positions", and went away again.

Till his coming, there had been some speculations as to the possibility
of evacuating the Peninsula; but the extraordinary difficulties of this
operation had been so evident, that those two military experts, the
China Doll and the Pimple, had long since decided that it could not be
accomplished without tremendous loss of life, a huge number of men left
behind as prisoners, and most of the guns abandoned.

Now, again, everyone wondered what Lord Kitchener thought, and what
would happen.

After his departure the weather broke up temporarily, and a
south-westerly gale—only a mild one—left Suvla and Anzac and Cape Helles
beaches strewn with wrecked or stranded picket-boats, lighters, and

In the third week of November the _Achates_ received the welcome order
to proceed to Kephalo.  The full moon shone brilliantly as she slipped
out through the nets, and off she went.  Two hours after leaving Mudros
the track of one torpedo shot across her bows, and half a minute later
another passed some eighty yards astern of her—Fritz, or one of his
brothers, had fired two torpedoes—so she increased speed and

The danger had vanished by the time it had been realized; and all that
the Honourable Mess and the gramophone knew about it, was the sudden
rushing down of men to close those water-tight doors and hatchways which
remained open, and a lurid description from the Pimple afterwards.  It
did not interrupt the delightful concert with worn-out records and
blunted needles.

By three o’clock she entered the submarine-net "gate" at Kephalo; and
when the sun rose next morning it shot up from behind Achi Baba, and
once again they heard the distant booming of guns.

Kephalo, at the corner of Imbros Island nearest to the Peninsula, is a
narrow harbour with high hills on one side and a narrow spit of land on
the other. It is entirely open to the north-east—the quarter from which
the worst of the winter gales blow—so three ships, including the big
_Oruba_, had been sunk across it, higher up, to give protection to the
little piers built there, and to the picket-boats, motor-lighters, and
ordinary lighters which worked round them.

Kephalo had become the advanced base of Anzac and Suvla, ten and twelve
miles away respectively, and it was absolutely necessary that troops and
stores should be able to be landed or embarked at all times. Here, too,
were the aerodromes which "Cuthbert" and his brothers so delighted to
bomb.  One of these was stationed on the low spit of ground; and the
Orphan, who had the knack of making friends with everyone, and the knack
of generally being in the right place at the right moment, managed one
afternoon to be taken "up" in a reconnoitring aeroplane. He and Bubbles
had strolled along to the aerodrome, wandered round until someone
invited them to tea in the "mess"; and whilst in the middle of it, the
"Flying Officer" on duty received an urgent signal: "Hostile submarine
reported off Gaba Tepe, steering S.W.; please send aeroplane
reconnaissance to search".

"Confounded nuisance!" exclaimed the Flying Officer.  "I wanted to write
some letters; the mail goes to-morrow morning.  Well, you chaps can tell
a submarine from a shark, I suppose; which of you would like to come
along and spot old Fritz?"

They both grinned with delight; but Bubbles carried too much weight—at
least a stone and a half more than the Orphan—so the Orphan was chosen.

The emergency aeroplane—a biplane—rested on its wheels outside the
sheds.  They walked across to it.

"Climb in!" said the Flying Officer.  "No, you won’t want a coat; stick
on this cap and goggles—pull the flap down over your ears—and get in as
you are; we shan’t be away more than an hour.  Sit down behind; I’ve
altered the control gear—can work it from the front seat."

The Orphan had never been in an aeroplane before, and tingled with
excitement.  He sat down and winked at the disappointed Bubbles whilst
his new friend climbed up in front of him and began to play about with
levers and switches.  "If you do see Fritz, signal with your hand—bang
me on the back—it’s no good shouting: I shan’t be able to hear you."

The blades began whizzing round as the engine buzzed; men gave the
machine a shove and a push; the blades went so fast that they only made
a mist in front of the Orphan’s eyes; the ground dropped away, and he
shouted to Bubbles to wait for him—though it wasn’t much use shouting,
because of the noise of the engines.

Up they went, passing over the _Swiftsure_, the _Achates_, and the other
ships in the harbour, and out beyond the line of submarine-net buoys.

They headed right over the sea, first of all towards Helles; passed it,
swept round, and the Orphan clutched at the sides of the "body" as the
aeroplane altered course, for he thought she was slipping sideways. Not
a sign of Fritz did he see, but below him lay the end of the Peninsula,
its white tents, "W" beach, the hull of the poor old _Majestic_ showing
clearly under the sea, Achi Baba and the streaks which represented the
Turkish trenches.  In another ten minutes he looked down on Gaba Tepe,
at one of the "Edgar" class firing shells which he could see bursting
among the streaks on top of the hills there.  Up the coast the aeroplane
sped, passed Suvla with its black submarine-net buoys—he counted one
hundred and fifty-two of them; the two battleships inside them looked
tiny, so did the tents on shore.  Then, with another wide sweep over the
sea, and bending to the right, he was carried along the left-flank coast
till he could see the little gap of Ejelmar Bay, where he and the Sub
had tried, that night three months ago, to find Fritz; and beyond it,
with some humpy hills between, the sun glittered on a broad sheet of
water and a silver streak which came in sight, in and out beyond the
hills—the Sea of Marmora and The Narrows.

Round swept the aeroplane; he clutched the sides; she steadied and flew
back towards Helles again, but not a sign of a submarine could he see;
and in fifty-five minutes from the time he had started, he was landed
with a gentle bump outside the aerodrome, and found Bubbles waiting for

"You _are_ a lucky chap," he bubbled.  "Did you see Fritz?"

The Orphan shook his head.  "But I saw The Narrows and old Marmora;
wasn’t that splendid?"

"Anybody fire at you?" Bubbles asked.

"Oh no!" explained the Flying Officer; "there was a bit of a haze over
the sea, so I could not go very high—shouldn’t have seen Fritz if I
had—so it was dangerous to go too near land.  We never climbed above
2500 feet."

They only just had time to catch the evening boat off to the _Achates_,
so they had to wish their new friend good-bye and hurry back along the
beach, the Orphan talking thirteen to the dozen.

Pride filled the bosom of this young officer, for he was the only one in
the ship who had seen either The Narrows or the Sea of Marmora.  "It
looks so near to The Narrows!" he said to the Sub that night.  "It
doesn’t look more than an hour’s walk.  Things have turned out rottenly,
haven’t they?"

"It _is_ rather tragic—really," the Sub said.

The first job the _Achates_ had, after arriving at Kephalo, was to send
working parties across to Anzac to help salve some lighters, a tug, and
two picket-boats, driven ashore by the first of those gales from the
south-west.  The first of the fierce gales from the north-east followed,
after two days of calm, and drove such heavy seas into Kephalo harbour
that the ship had to put to sea, and anchor round the corner of the
island, behind another row of submarine nets, in Aliki Bay.  She came
back as soon as that gale had blown itself out; but on the 27th of
November another north-easterly gale commenced, and next day she again
had to shift round to Aliki Bay.  Here she and all the other ships that
had come round for shelter rode out that three days of blizzard which
caused such horrible suffering to the troops at Suvla—to British and
Turk alike.  The temperature on board ship never fell below 30 degrees,
but at Suvla it fell to something like 15 or 18, even lower.  First of
all, before the gale it rained in torrents, and as the water collected
and flowed down from the hills behind Anafarta into the valley, it
washed over the Turkish trenches, levelling them, and carrying drowned
Turks, drowned mules, barbed wire and their posts right over a long
section of the British lines, drowning a large number of the British,
flooding their trenches, and carrying everything before it till the Salt
Lake was reached.  When the rain ceased the bitter north-east gale flung
itself down from the hills, bringing at first heavy snow; then the
terrible cold froze the water in the trenches, and hundreds of our men,
up to their middles in it, died of exposure, and very many hundreds
suffered from frost-bite.

During those three days the troops at Suvla experienced the climax of
hardship and exposure.  The Turks suffered even more than our own
people; and when daylight broke after the worst night, they were left
exposed in the open with their trenches swept away, and our men—those
whose hands were not too numbed to fire a rifle—shot them down like
rabbits. Afterwards, a gentle breeze sprang up from the south-west, and,
almost as if in pity, a warm sun shone down on those much-tried armies.

On the Tuesday the ships trailed back to Kephalo again, getting a
glimpse of Samothrace with its snow-clad peak glittering in the sun—a
most gorgeous, exquisite spectacle.

They found that the centre one of those three breakwater ships had
disappeared entirely, and the head of the harbour behind them, close to
the piers, was absolutely littered with wreckage.  This centre ship had
broken in half on the Sunday night, and the seas sweeping through the
gap had hurled all the picket-boats and lighters sheltering behind her
on to the shore, in one jumbled, tumbled mass.

They presented a most extraordinary sight piled on top of each other,
and half buried in a huge mass of seaweed swept in with them.  A big
distilling steamer, with her rudder gone and her rudder-post smashed,
had been driven ashore farther along the bay; beyond her lay a
"water-beetle" high and dry, and, still farther along the shore, one of
those small provisioning "coaster" steamers which ran between Kephalo
and the Peninsula.

Salvage work commenced immediately.  The Lamp-post and Rawlins took
fifty men ashore, and worked, day after day, digging away the seaweed
which blocked the little piers, and trying to refloat the least damaged
of the steamboats; the Sub, with a number of men, had to rig shears to
lift out the engines and boilers of those which were hopelessly
smashed—all very unpleasant work, because that seaweed decomposed
quickly under a hot sun and gave out the most unpleasant odour.

A more pleasing job had Bubbles and the Orphan. With a large working
party they commenced to dig a channel through the sand—good, honest,
clean sand—in order to refloat a stranded "water-beetle".  They paddled
about all day and had a huge lark.

On the second morning, as they prepared to go ashore, Uncle Podger, on
his way to his bath, sang out: "Take your little buckets and spades and
go down to the beach, dears, but promise Mummy not to get wet."

"We’ll promise Uncle a jolly ’thick ear’ when we do come back," they
laughed.  "Come along by the seven-bell boat, bring a basket and some
tea ’grub’, and we’ll have a picnic there."

"Cuthbert" came over from Maidos once or twice, just to make "kind
enquiries", find out how the salvage operations progressed, and see
whether three or four bombs would be of any assistance.  They were not;
none of them dropped near enough to help, and all much too far away to
do any damage.

The weather became simply perfect, and after a week’s hard work the
_Swiftsure_ had hauled off the distilling ship and one of the
"water-beetles", the _Achates_ had towed off that small steam "coaster",
and Bubbles and the Orphan had dug a channel sufficiently deep for a tug
to come along and tow off their stranded motor-lighter.

That especial job being finished, these two midshipmen again had time to
look round and see what life would bring.  It brought news of woodcock
and partridge—woodcock in the deep sheltered valleys, and partridge on
the slopes of the hills.  The little Padre lent them his shot-gun, and
away they tramped one day, taking the China Doll to "beat" for them and
to carry home all the birds.  They swore a solemn oath that each should
fire alternate shots, an arrangement which made a "right and left"
difficult to get when frightened coveys were put up.  Bubbles fired the
deadly shot which eventually killed a partridge, and, of course, by the
time the Orphan had seized the gun the rest of that covey had swooped
out of range.

They sent the China Doll to retrieve the bird, and sat down to smoke
their pipes and shout good advice at him; for the hill-side was covered
with boulders and thick scrub, and the China Doll had a big job in front
of him.  "Keep it up, China Doll; never despair!" they shouted
encouragingly as he came back with his hands and knees scratched and
bleeding. "’If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.’  We’ve
got another hour to wait for you.  Off you go!"

At last the bird was picked up; and in the gun-room that night they held
an inquest on it, and found that "it had been well and truly killed by
one or more missiles discharged from an explosive weapon, and that no
trace of foul play, such as bludgeoning or being strangled, could be

Then came the question as to how it should be "hung", and for how long.
The China Doll said that "the proper thing to do was to hang it by the
head, and when the corpse dropped off, then it would be just right."
They thought of trying the experiment on him, but desisted on the urgent
representation of Uncle Podger that, if the China Doll’s body dropped
off his head, the work of the Ship’s Office would be seriously delayed
whilst he, Uncle Podger, attended the funeral as chief mourner—and,
besides, he had no _crêpe_ band to go round his arm.

Eventually Bubbles and the Orphan ate that bird on the second day—after
innumerable visits to the gun-room galley to see how it progressed—and
it was as tough as tough could be.  They gave the China Doll the

A week later the little Padre mildly suggested that next time they
borrowed his gun they might clean it before they put it back in the
case.  "It doesn’t get quite so rusty," he said apologetically.

For many months the southern portion of Anzac—Brighton Beach and
Watson’s Pier there—had practically been abandoned, because "Beachy
Bill", a high-velocity 4.1-inch gun, somewhere up in the Olive Grove,
above Gaba Tepe, had the range of the pier so exactly that he would hit
the end of it, or lighters lying alongside, with his very first shot of
the day, and his fire at night was almost as accurate.  Several attempts
had been made to destroy him (probably he had several brothers), but
these had not been successful.

One day—the 10th December—the _Bacchante_, an "Edgar" cruiser, and two
monitors went across from Kephalo, and fired a great number of rounds
into the Olive Grove.  Whether "Beachy Bill" or his brothers were hit or
not, no one could actually say; but only one gun fired after that day,
and it made such inaccurate shooting as not to interfere with work
either on the pier or the beach.  It did not fire at all at night.

At the time no one, except perhaps Captain Macfarlane, knew the meaning
of this great expenditure of ammunition; but two days later, "all hands
and the cook" were told off for various jobs, either at Suvla or Anzac,
in motor-lighters or picket-boats, or actually on the beaches
themselves; and it dawned on the enthusiastic Honourable Mess that,
after all, an attempt was to be made to evacuate those places, and that
the last prodigal bombardment of the Olive Grove had been for the
purpose of finally destroying the guns there, and making it possible to
use Brighton Beach and Watson’s Pier for the embarkation.

So secretly had everything been carried out, that no one in the gun-room
knew that most of the stores and the greater part of the guns, horses,
and mules had already been withdrawn.

They had seen fleet-sweepers and the troop-carriers—the _Osmanieh_, the
_Ermine_, _Reindeer_, _Redbreast_, _Abassiah_, and several
others—crowded with troops on their way to Suvla or Anzac; but they had
not seen them returning still more densely packed with men, nor the
transports with horses, guns, and stores. This had all been done by

Rumours flew round that though Suvla and Anzac were to be abandoned, the
end of the Peninsula, in front of Achi Baba, was to be reinforced by all
that remained of the 29th Division, and maintained at all costs.

The Lamp-post and Rawlins, ordered to take charge of two
"water-beetles", donned their dirty old khaki delightedly, and took over
their "commands". The Lamp-post had K26, a single-screw lighter driven
by one big motor.  K67 belonged to Rawlins, and possessed two little
motors driving twin screws. For the first day they were employed in
Kephalo harbour, and had a great argument that night as to which would
prove the faster.  The Lamp-post bet Rawlins a dinner at the club at
Malta, or at the first civilized place the _Achates_ went to, that his
one big engine would beat the two small ones.

Next day they had the opportunity of deciding, for they were ordered to
Suvla.  The Lamp-post led the way through the "gate" in the submarine
net, and waited outside for Rawlins to come abreast and make a fair

"The first one through Suvla ’gate’ to win!" he shouted.  "Off we go!"
and they raced each other across the twelve miles of sea, the Lamp-post
winning his dinner very easily.

Now, though the chief stokers—old pensioners—in these two lighters
pretended to be just as excited about the race as the midshipmen
themselves, actually they were much too wise to press their motors hard,
knowing full well that two hours driving at top speed would probably
disable them for days.  However, the Lamp-post and Rawlins did not know
this—they thought they were having a "ding-dong" race—so it did not

They arrived there at dusk, just as the usual high-explosive shells
dropped on "’A’ West" beach, and some little ones fell into the harbour
near the _Cornwallis_, others near the poor old distilling ship.

Off "’A’ West" pier there was now quite a comfortable little harbour,
made by two steamers which had been sunk at right angles to each other,
with a gap between them just sufficiently wide for two "water-beetles"
to pass through side by side.

They had helped to fill these two steamers with stones and rubble at
Mudros two months ago, so recognized them—the _Fieramosca_ and the

On this same day, Bubbles and the Orphan rigged themselves in khaki,
joyfully packed away a few things in their battered, old tin cases, and
took charge of two picket-boats—the Orphan of one belonging to the
_Swiftsure_ (this ship had no midshipmen), and Bubbles of one which had
belonged to the ill-fated _Majestic_.  The unfortunate Hun looked very
miserable as he waved "good-bye" to them.  He had not regained strength
after his attack of dysentery, and Dr. O’Neill would not let him take
any job on shore.

"You’ve got your D.S.C., old Hun; so don’t worry," the Orphan consoled
him.  "I only wish that I could get it!"

                             *CHAPTER XXI*

                     *The Evacuation of Suvla Bay*

In a little wooden hut, perched on a mound just above the landing-places
at Kephalo, lived two naval Captains—the Fierce One and the Not So
Fierce One.

Bubbles, the Orphan, and eight other snotties, with their picket-boats,
found themselves handed over to the anything but tender mercies of the
Fierce One; and the morning after Rawlins and the Lamp-post had raced
their "water-beetles" (or thought they had raced them) across to Suvla,
these ten gathered, expectantly, outside this wooden hut, and waited
whilst the Captains finished their breakfast and smoked their pipes.

All these ten midshipmen were dressed in some sort of khaki except the
two _Lord Nelsons_, who wore ordinary blue uniform, and grinned and
nudged each other as though they shared some secret joke which they
couldn’t possibly divulge.

Presently the Fierce One came out, and they all stiffened to attention.
He gave a preliminary roar—just to clear his throat and make way for
what was coming—rapidly casting his eye over them.  "Who’s the senior
snotty here?  Why the—the—the—don’t you report to me?"

The ten had never thought of that.  They muttered, and looked at each
other, and at last the very microscopic _Lord Nelson’s_ midshipman
(known generally as the Cheese-mite) nervously reported: "All midshipmen
present, sir."

"What’s your name?" he growled.

"The Cheese-m——  Morrison, I mean, sir."

"Morrison be hanged!  I don’t care a tuppenny biscuit what you were
christened.  What’s your boat?"

"_Lord Nelson’s_ first picket-boat, sir."

"Um!  _Lord Nelson_ No. 1.  That’s your name. What in the name of
goodness d’you mean by it? This isn’t a fancy-dress ball; what are all
these individuals doing, coming along here like a lot of dysenteric
soldiers?" and he shook his fist at the eight disconcerted midshipmen in
khaki.  "If I see ’em dressed again except in uniform, I’ll—I’ll—wring
their necks!"

Then he went from one to the other, to learn the names of their
steamboats, glaring at each, and "sizing" them up as he did so.

Bubbles became _Majestic_, the Orphan _Swiftsure_. This having been
concluded, he went through them again to make certain that he knew their
boats, and from that moment never made a mistake.

"_Lord Nelson_ No. 1 and No. 2, _Swiftsure_, and _Majestic_ fall in on
the right—make a gap between you and the others.  You four will work at
Suvla—the other six at Anzac.  You’ll all get more orders presently, but
remember this.  Your job is to take off stragglers on Saturday and
Sunday nights—those are the two nights of the evacuation.  You’ll have
some pulling boats in tow, and you are not to leave behind a single man
who gets down to the shore.  Remember that.  Saturday night ought not to
be difficult; but on Sunday night, when the last few men rush down with
the Turks after ’em, you’ll have your work cut out.  You’ll have to
’wash out’ any idea of bullets and nonsense like that, and if any one of
you doesn’t do his job, I’ll—I’ll—wring his neck!  Oh!" he roared,
"you’ll wish you’d never met me."

A good many of the young officers had begun to wish that already.

He went on: "The boats you’ll have to tow will come round in a day or
two—those that aren’t here now; and here’s a list of things to be done,
one for each of you.  Away you go!"

He handed them each a paper, and stalked back to the wooden hut, but
turned and growled fiercely: "Remember this: every man Jack who is on
the Peninsula now is useless to England; every man who gets away is one
to the good.  Remember that, and do your job, or by the—the—the—I’ll
wring your necks!  Off you go, and don’t let me see any more of you in
those dirty ragamuffin clothes of yours."

They made their way down to the little piers and the wrecked boats which
still littered the shore.

"You _are_ a rotter, Cheese-mite.  You might have told us.  You knew it
all the time," they said.  "We thought we must come in khaki."

"I couldn’t tell that you were coming like that, and it was a jolly
sight too late for you to go back and shift," the Cheese-mite explained.

"My aunt!" the Orphan said to Bubbles as he read his paper; "wooden
boards to be fitted inside the glass windows of cabins.  Whatever’s that

"Splinters, I expect.  When we’re chock-full of Tommies, some will have
to crowd below, and a bullet coming in and smashing the glass would
fling the bits all round."

"They don’t expect us to have a warm time—do they?"

"Not half!" Bubbles grinned.

[Illustration: "SCREENED LANTERNS!"]

They soon stowed away their khaki and shifted into blue uniform, and for
the next two days fitted out their boats with maxims, two boxes of
belts, towing-spans[#] over the sterns (as on the occasion of the first
landing), fitting shields round the steering-wheels of those boats which
had none, making screens for hand-lanterns, testing their steam-pumps,
and seeing that the thirty or forty items down on their "lists" were on

[#] Towing-span, a rope or wire passing all round a boat under her
gunwales, with a hook secured to the bight at the stern. The painter or
tow-rope of a boat to be towed is secured to this hook.

On the Thursday morning the Fierce One came out in his fussy little "Z"
motor-boat, and all the ten picket-boats followed him, making a circle
round him whilst he inspected them.

The maxims—he could see them; anchors—he could see them too; but when he
shouted through his megaphone "Screened lanterns!" every snotty had to
hold up his lantern with one hand and the canvas screen in the other.
The same with the semaphore flags, boats’ signal-books, axes,
compass-boxes, and ammunition-boxes.

"Work your pumps!" he roared; and after a furious interval all ten
picket-boats began squirting jets of water.

Then he bellowed "Megaphones!" and all held up their megaphones except
the Cheese-mite.

He dashed alongside _Lord Nelson_ No. 1, and seized the Cheese-mite by
his coat collar.

"Where’s your megaphone? you—you—you——"

"Please, sir, I had it this morning; but when that destroyer went past
just now the picket-boat rolled, and it went overboard."

"I’ll roll you overboard," he growled, holding up the Cheese-mite as
though he were a kitten.  "You’ll get another before night, or

"Knives!" he shouted.

Now nearly all the snotties had taken for granted that every man aboard
would have one.  But only a few had them, and the Fierce One flew in a
towering rage.

Eventually he took all the picket-boats outside the submarine net to
make certain that those maxims would fire; and it can be easily imagined
what happened when ten strange maxims were worked by ten not very
experienced "hands", in ten bobbing picket-boats, under the supervision
of ten much less experienced snotties.

A bullet hit the gunwale not two feet from where the Orphan stood, and
goodness only knows why there were no casualties.  Little, though, cared
the Fierce One, so long as he made certain that every machine-gun was in
working order.

That day they practised towing their pulling-boats—four to each of the
Suvla boats, three to each of the Anzac ones.

A very busy day they had, for in the evening a transport came into
harbour loaded with mules from Suvla, and tried the simple plan of
slinging them overboard and letting them swim to the shore.

The Orphan and Bubbles were sent away in pulling-cutters to shepherd
them in the right direction, and had the time of their lives chasing
silly, obstinate mules who wanted to swim out to sea.  Eventually they
headed them off, and they made a "bee-line" for a battleship, lying with
her torpedo-nets "out". It was the funniest sight in the world to see
half a dozen mules with their heads looking over the edge of the
torpedo-nets, "digging out for daylight", and really quite happy.  After
a lot of shouting and laughing they were all induced to swim shorewards,
and soon scrambled on the beach, shaking themselves like big dogs,
rolling in the sand, and looking for the nearest eating-place.

During these few days the ten midshipmen heard hundreds of yarns about
the preparations for evacuation—how the front trenches had been mined,
and many of the reserve and communicating trenches as well; that the
only guns to be left behind, if all went well, were a few condemned
18-pounders and 6-inch howitzers.  To deceive the Turks on the Sunday
night, many rifles were being fixed up in the front trenches with tins
lashed to their triggers, and, above these empty tins, others with a
hole in the bottom of each.  When the last of the troops left the
firing-trenches, they would load the rifles, fill the top tins full of
water; the water would drip slowly or fast—according to the size of the
holes—into the other tins fixed to the triggers, and when these became
full, off would go the rifles—at different times.  The few motor-lorries
and ambulances still remaining kept dashing about in full view of the
Turks, to make them think that they were just as numerous as ever; and
the few troops in reserve, instead of hiding behind Lala Baba or
Chocolate Hill, made themselves more conspicuous in the open.

You can understand, as the week went by and that fateful Saturday
approached, how tense the excitement grew, and how eagerly everyone
watched the barometer and the sky for any change from the gorgeous calm
days which succeeded each other.  Such a spell of fine weather could not
possibly last much longer, and the fate of perhaps fifty thousand men
depended much upon it lasting until early Monday morning.

The Turks had not yet given any sign that they realized what had been
happening or what was about to happen.  They still shelled the ships,
the beaches, the old empty gun positions just as they used to do, and
generally at the same old times; but no one, knowing the ease with which
they had previously seemed able to obtain information of our doings,
thought it possible that they could actually still be in ignorance.

In the middle watch, on Friday night, a huge fire broke out at Anzac.
Actually some of the most inflammatory stores prepared for burning on
the Sunday night had been set alight accidentally, and made a tremendous

On board the _Achates_ Mr. Meredith, whose watch it was, stood, with the
Quartermaster, watching the glare—ten miles away across the sea—and knew
that something had gone wrong.

"That will give the show away," the Quartermaster muttered sadly.

"I’m afraid it will," Mr. Meredith answered, desperately anxious.

That fire burnt all night, but in the morning the Turks never showed the
least sign of activity beyond the usual normal sniping and shelling.

Saturday dawned absolutely calm—a few flaky, almost stationary clouds
showed against the blue sky.

"Can it hold until Monday morning?"—that was what everyone thought and
hoped and prayed.

Again the ten midshipmen "fell in" outside the little wooden hut—this
time all in their proper blue uniform—and received their orders in
writing, each order beginning with the well-known formula: "Being in all
respects ready for sea, you will proceed forthwith..."  Then followed
long detailed orders for every eventuality.

Drawing two days’ provisions for his own crew and the twenty-four men in
his four pulling-boats occupied the rest of the Orphan’s morning.

At half-past four he shoved off from the _Achates_—the Hun, looking
wistfully after him, waved "good luck"—and he towed his four boats to
the trawler told off to tow him to Suvla.  Bubbles, coming along with
his boats, made fast to another.  Before dusk all the trawlers left
Kephalo, each with its picket-boat and string of pulling-boats behind
it; four headed for Suvla, and the other six towards Anzac.

The sea was calm, and the sky gave not the slightest indication of any
change in the weather, so that the Orphan and his coxswain—a wiry,
active petty officer named Marchant, belonging to the _Swiftsure_—were
in the highest spirits.

"If it only keeps like this, sir!" the coxswain kept on saying.

Before it grew too dark to see properly, they both inspected all the
boat’s gear to make certain that nothing was out of its place.  Down in
the cabin the Orphan found some green leaves—cabbage leaves.

"Heave them overboard," he said.  "Whatever are they doing down here?"

"I thought they were for you, sir.  An old stoker brought ’em down; told
me to hand ’em over to you, very carefully, and he brought this box
too."  He picked up a small wooden box about a foot square, with a lot
of holes bored in the top and the sides; and the Orphan burst out
laughing, for he knew he would find "Kaiser Bill" inside it.

"That’s ’Kaiser Bill’," he said, as he raised the lid and saw the
tortoise lying there.  "He brings good luck.  He came in our boat when
the Lancashire Fusiliers landed, so I suppose old Fletcher thinks he
ought to take a hand in this job as well—the funny old man!"

"He’s a rum-looking beast for a mascot, isn’t he!" Marchant grinned,
holding up "Kaiser Bill" with his legs sprawling beneath his shell, and
his head peeping slyly out as though he knew all about everything.

The Orphan put him and his box down below the water-line, where no
bullets could reach him.

A nearly full moon rose and gave sufficient light to avoid any other
craft on their way across, and in a little over an hour and a half they
had almost reached the nets outside Suvla.

The Orphan slipped his tow-rope, and so did Bubbles, and both of them
steamed round to a little pier which had been constructed on the north
side of Suvla Point—a pier called Saunders Pier.

They reported themselves to the naval Pier-master; and the Orphan,
leaving his two big boats—a launch and pinnace—alongside this pier,
towed the other two—two cutters—along the left-flank coast, and anchored
them close inshore.  Their crews knew the countersign and password, and
if any men hailed them properly from shore, they were ordered to pull in
and take them off.

For the next three hours the Orphan was employed taking off officers and
their baggage from "’A’ West", going in through the gap between the
sunken _Fieramosca_ and _Pina_, and steaming out again, dodging empty
motor-lighters being warped in through the gap, and full motor-lighters
being warped out.  He took them to the _Redbreast_, lying out near the
nets, and then returned to Saunders Pier and found his two big boats
loaded with rifles and baggage of all sorts.

These he towed off to two trawlers anchored close by, waited for them to
be emptied, and brought them back again to Saunders Pier.  After that he
lay off the pier for nearly an hour, and had some food and a smoke.  The
men boiled some water and made cocoa over a bogey, and he had a jolly,
happy, exciting time yarning with Marchant, and listening to occasional
rifle-shots which came from farther away towards the left
flank—Jephson’s Post way.  Bubbles came back from patrolling the coast,
and lay alongside him. "It’s all quiet there along the coast, just a
rifle-shot every now and then; no one along the beach.  Isn’t it a
perfect night?"

It was actually the most perfect night imaginable; hardly a breath of
wind, hardly a ripple on the water, and the moon lighted up the cliffs
and Suvla Point as distinctly as in day-time.  Hardly a sound reached
them, and the rocks of Suvla Point prevented them seeing anything going
on inside the bay.  It was all as peaceful as a picnic.

But about half-past one those two trawlers, to which the Orphan had
taken his boats with the baggage, went aground; and the Orphan was sent
round to "’A’ West", inside the bay, to bring out the Senior
Beach-master.  For nearly four hours he worked, laying out anchors and
taking wires across to a big tug.

Some time after six o’clock, just before the moon actually disappeared,
and before the two trawlers floated off, he had to go along the coast,
pick up his two cutters—they had seen or heard nothing—then pick up the
big launch and pinnace, and tow them back to Kephalo.  It was only when
he went back to Saunders Pier for those two big boats that the Orphan
heard that everything had "gone off" without a single hitch, and without
the Turks having shown the least sign that their suspicions had been

Hearing this, you can imagine how joyfully he and Marchant, the
coxswain, started on their twelve-mile journey back to Kephalo.  Those
tows of boats must be away, out of sight, before daylight; so they put
their "best leg foremost", and steamed in through the harbour just after
seven o’clock, finding a large captured German steamer anchored there,
and simply packed with troops from Suvla.

Most of the other ten picket-boats had arrived back previously, because
the night’s job at Anzac had been successfully completed by half-past
one in the morning, and the six boats on duty there had started back not
very long afterwards.

The excitement and the enthusiasm of everyone, due to the successful
accomplishment of the first night’s work, kept the midshipmen awake.
Most of the picket-boats gathered close together under the lee of the
sunken _Oruba_.  The crews cooked their breakfasts, ate them—jolly good
rations of army bacon, any amount of bread and jam—yarned, and laughed,
and smoked.  They fetched "Kaiser Bill" out of his box and tempted him
with a cabbage leaf, but he turned up his nose at it.  Then Bubbles and
the Orphan went alongside the _Achates_ to coal and water; rushed
inboard to get a wash and a bit more breakfast, to tell everyone down in
the gun-room—the Hun, the China Doll, Uncle Podger, and the
Pimple—everything that had happened, and go back to their boats again.

"You didn’t mind me sending you ’Kaiser Bill’?" Fletcher, waiting
outside the gun-room, asked the Orphan.

"Rather not; it was jolly good of you to lend him to us.  He brought us
good luck the first night, at any rate."

"I’m sure he’ll bring you luck to-night as well, sir."

Precious little "stand easy" did the Orphan and his crew get that day.
The _Swiftsure’s_ picket-boat was about the best-steaming boat of the
ten, and the Fierce One used her all day, going about the harbour and
supervising everything that went on.  He and his crew managed to get a
meal in the middle of the day, and then were employed disembarking and
clearing the transport of all the troops she had brought across the
previous night.

At half-past four on that Sunday afternoon, the 19th December, all ten
picket-boats, towed by as many trawlers, and their pulling-boats behind
them, started off again for Anzac and Suvla.

The weather showed not a sign of changing, and before they reached Suvla
the darkness disappeared under a moon almost more perfect than the night
before.  It really was more perfect, because a few thin clouds floated
slowly across it; and though they hardly lessened the light it gave,
they prevented shadows.

When they neared Suvla the picket-boat slipped, and did just as she had
done the night before: anchored her two cutters along the cliffs beyond
Suvla Point, and left the two big boats alongside Saunders Pier. The
Orphan then patrolled very slowly along the coast, but everything was
quiet except for a very few solitary rifle-shots; and these, he thought,
were probably the rifles with the tin cans tied to their triggers going
"off" when their tins filled.  No stragglers showed on top of the cliffs
nor down on the beach, and it was almost impossible to realize that up
above him the trenches were being silently evacuated, and that the
soldiers had already commenced, sections at a time, to file down that
sandy, steep path which he and the Lamp-post had followed, on their way
back from the Naval Observation Post, that ripping afternoon in

At about ten o’clock Bubbles, almost incoherent with excitement, came
along in the old _Majestic’s_ picket-boat and relieved him.

"You have to go back to Saunders Pier," he stuttered and burbled, "and
take back your cutters.  I’ve to do a bit of patrolling."

The Orphan, picking up his anchored cutters and their crews, towed them
to this pier, found his two big boats already crowded with troops, and
took them off to two trawlers lying outside (those two which had run
aground the previous night had been refloated shortly after daylight).
For the next three hours he went backwards and forwards between trawlers
and pier, and then, leaving his boats for Bubbles to carry on the good
work, was ordered round to "’A’ West", inside the Bay.  On the way, he
and the coxswain and the crew had some food—bread and meat sandwiches,
water to wash them down.  No food could be cooked and no cocoa made this
night, because strict orders had been given that not a light had to be
shown—not even the cooking bogey could be lighted.

Here, at "’A’ West", he was in the thick of everything, jostling and
nosing his way in and out among the picket-boats and motor-lighters
struggling to get in or out by that gap between the _Fieramosca_ and the

On the pier they told him that everything was "going all right", and
that the Turks showed no signs of leaving their trenches.  The
excitement as boatloads of men, horses, and stores went off to the
ships, and as he helped with officers and their baggage, kept him
oblivious of time or fatigue.

By four o’clock that morning the evacuation had been successfully
accomplished.  He happened to have gone to the Beach-master’s office at
about that time with a message.  As he entered, the Beach-master put
down his telephone and smiled grimly to a military officer there.
"They’ve just telephoned from ’C’ beach to say they are finished, and
the naval beach-party is now embarking.  Not a soldier left behind."

"I expected to be on my way to Constantinople by this time—a prisoner,"
the weary officer replied.

"It’s about time we packed up too.  There’s only a little more big
baggage, and perhaps a hundred and fifty men of the beach parties,
military landing-officers, and your people to go off from here, and that
finishes the bag of tricks.  Haven’t we pulled their legs?  Listen!
they’re sniping just as usual, up there. I’m just going round to get
those stores properly started burning, and then pack up.  I’m really
sorry to leave, for some reasons," he said, glancing round his tiny
little office "dug-out", with the bare rock on one side and the sand-bag

He sent the Orphan, with one of the Pier-masters, to make a last search
of the left flank.  Off they went, rounded Suvla Point, and worked
slowly along under the foot of the cliffs again, the Pier-master hailing
the shore occasionally through a megaphone.  Not a sound came back,
except the echo from the face of the cliffs.  They went some two miles
along the coast, turned, and steamed back quickly, because they saw the
glare of the burning fires, and thought that now, at any rate, the Turks
would realize what had happened, and would come tearing down.  Suvla
Point and Saunders Pier were lighted up by the crackling, leaping
flames, and in his four boats, still lying alongside the pier, the last
of the people to leave Suvla had crowded.  Four or five army officers
came across to the less crowded picket-boat, and then, with an
extraordinary feeling of exhilaration, he towed them off to the waiting
trawlers, and stood off whilst those last people crowded into them.

This accomplished, he received orders to anchor his boats, and, with
that same Pier-master, to make another last search along the cliffs on
the left flank.

Away he went, and perhaps not more than half a mile—certainly not a
mile—from the end of Suvla Point they saw a small group of dark figures
on top of the cliffs.  The Pier-master, a lusty naval lieutenant, hailed
them through his megaphone; and a voice shouted back: "We’re English!
We’re English!"

"That’s funny," said the Pier-master.  "Edge in a little closer; get
your maxim ready."

The coxswain steered in towards the shore, and again the Pier-master
hailed, and again a single voice called back: "We’re English!  We’re

"Well, if they _were_ English, they would _all_ shout," he said.  "Keep
her out!  They are Turks, those chaps; probably a patrol which has
pushed along the edge of the cliffs and does not know what to make of
things.  They would make a ’hullabaloo’, right enough, if they were our
chaps left behind."

The picket-boat steamed along under the cliffs, hailing every now and
then, until they had passed the place where the left-flank trenches,
coming down from Jephson’s Post, touched the shore.  Not a man could be
seen, nor did any answer come back in response to the hails through the

"That’s finish!" the Pier-master told the Orphan. "Turn her round."
Over went the wheel, round twisted the picket-boat, back she steamed to
where the four boats lay, out beyond Suvla Point; and although the moon
had disappeared by this time, there was not the slightest difficulty in
finding them, for the whole water reflected the flames of the burning
stores, and the boats and the men’s faces showed up plainly.

The picket-boat took them in tow, and commenced to steam across to
Kephalo.  Behind her the flames leapt fiercely along the sweep of the
bay, and every now and again explosions took place, hurling masses of
flame and sparks high in the air.  Silhouetted black against these fires
was the _Cornwallis_ battleship, left behind to keep the fires burning
with her shells—if necessary—and to destroy in the morning the few
wooden lighters which had been left behind.

Down along the coast at Anzac the sea was ruddy with the huge fires
burning there.

"Well, if they’ve only been as successful down there, it’s been a mighty
good show," the Pier-master said as they watched them.  "We’ve only left
four condemned guns—blown them up, too—and not a single man, horse, or
mule; and we’ve even taken off the goats belonging to the Indian
Transport Column. My hat! it’s simply wonderful; I’m going to coil up
and do a little ’shut eye’ down in the cabin.  I have not slept for
nearly four days."

"’Kaiser Bill’ is down there.  I do believe he has brought luck," the
Orphan burst out; and then had to explain who "Kaiser Bill" was.

The coxswain, sweeping his hand astern towards Anafarta, called down:
"Look, sir, there comes the dawn.  We wondered if the weather would hold
till Monday, and, thank God! it has."

The Orphan looked, and, hardly noticeable behind the bright glare of the
fires, saw the pale light of dawn behind the Anafarta hills.

There was no longer any need for precautions. The "bogey" on the
engine-room casings soon burnt brightly, and soon he and Marchant were
sharing a big bowl of cocoa, and ravenously eating some more clumsy
sandwiches which the men cut for them. Neither of them as yet felt
sleepy, because the excitement of success kept them wide awake, though
neither had slept for two whole days and nights.

By seven-thirty it became light enough for them to see, ahead of them,
on their way from Suvla or Anzac, ten or twelve "water-beetles", a dozen
or more trawlers, with long strings of transports’ boats, pontoons, and
lighters towing behind them; some twenty steamboats, also with their
"tows", and several small tugs.  The Suvla distilling steamer—the
_Bacchus_—which for four months had been constantly shelled, was
steaming on her way to Mudros; and patrolling destroyers, trawlers, and
drifters swept the sea just as they always had done, and just as though
nothing had happened.

Boom!  Boom! came the rumble and thud of the firing of two big guns.

"The _Cornwallis_, sir, at Suvla," the coxswain said, turning to look,
and making the Orphan turn to watch Turkish shells bursting down by the
water’s edge—just as usual.  They had commenced their early morning
"hate"—on empty beaches.

"By all that is wonderful, sir!" said the coxswain.

At half-past eight the picket-boat entered Kephalo harbour; and the
Orphan knew, by the cheering which greeted him from the troops packed
together aboard two large transports anchored inside, that the
evacuation of Anzac had been completed as successfully as that at Suvla.

He turned over his four boats to a battleship, and threaded his way
through the throng of steamboats, trawlers, and motor-lighters which
jostled each other in the harbour, eventually reached the shore, and
landed to report himself.

He found the Fierce One, who had only just returned from Suvla, and the
Not So Fierce One at breakfast in their little wooden hut.

"Hum!  You’ve come back, have you?" growled the Fierce One.  "A very
good two nights’ work; very good, indeed!"

The Not So Fierce One, looking at the Orphan, said: "You look pretty
well fagged out; have a cup of tea, or something."

                             *CHAPTER XXII*

                           *A Terrible Night*

The Orphan had returned to Kephalo at nine o’clock in the morning—that
Monday morning after the evacuation of Suvla.  He had had no sleep for
forty-eight hours, and was allowed none now.  In the afternoon the
largest tug received orders to tow four picket-boats and a steam pinnace
to Mudros—the two picket-boats belonging to the _Lord Nelson_, the boat
belonging to the _Swiftsure_, another, and the steam pinnace.

The Orphan thought this would be rather a "spree", and did not notice
that the north-easterly breeze which had held all that past week had
backed to the south-west.

At half-past four in the afternoon, he and the other boats followed the
tug out of harbour under their own steam.  Beyond the "nets" the tug
waited for them to come along and make fast, one behind the other.

"This is just the time when it’s best to be last," Marchant, his
coxswain, suggested.  "I don’t feel quite certain of the weather, and if
we are the last boat we can slip whenever we want to."

The Orphan agreed, and wasted a good deal of time—on purpose—going out
of harbour, and found the other boats all secured to each other, in one
long line, by the time he joined them.  The captain of the tug was not
very polite to him, but he did not worry about that, and made fast his
tow-rope to the last boat—the _Lord Nelson’s_ No. 1 picket-boat.

The Cheese-mite shouted across: "I say, Orphan, you’ve cut me out of the
stern billet—I wanted that."

"So did I," the Orphan laughed.

Away they all went, one after another, the tug steaming very slowly; and
outside Suvla Point they found quite a fresh breeze, blowing straight in
their faces, and the sea which had been so calm had already begun to
cover itself with little "white horses".

Four "water-beetles" joined company, puffing along with them as fast as
they could.

Fires were allowed to die out gradually in all the steamboats, and there
was nothing to do but steer them.

The crew now lighted the bogey, made tea, and fried some bacon.
Everyone had a good meal; and after it the Orphan felt much too
comfortable and sleepy to chaff the Cheese-mite ahead of him through his
megaphone.  "I’m going to have a bit of sleep," he told Marchant, and
snuggled down below in the little cabin, with a rolled-up overcoat as

It was bright moonlight when he woke up, and he felt the picket-boat
bumping into waves every other second.  He rubbed his eyes, and jumped
on deck to the wheel.

"Hullo, what’s that?" he said, noticing smoke coming up out of the

"I didn’t wake you, sir; there’s nothing to worry about—not yet; but I
don’t like the look of the weather, so I’m raising steam in case
anything happens.  You’d better get an oilskin on, sir," he added, as
the bows bumped into a wave and the spray came over them.

But the Orphan had not one, so he took the wheel whilst Marchant went
for his.

The breeze had indeed risen, and the sea too.  The picket-boats ahead of
him were going up and down like the boats at a circus roundabout; and
behind him those motor-lighters, looking more like "water-beetles" than
ever, in the moonlight, were slowly falling astern, yawing from side to
side and covered with spray.

He saw Kephalo South Point light and the fires over at Anzac, which
still burnt furiously, and knew that the boats had only just got past
Aliki Bay.  He could not have been asleep for long.

The wind and sea increased every minute, and made the steering of the
picket-boat quite a hard job. Marchant came back and took the wheel from
him. "I’ve known this boat for nearly three years, sir," he said; and
the Orphan, knowing how he hated letting anyone steer his own old
picket-boat, knew what he meant.

"What extraordinary luck, sir!" Marchant said presently.  "Fancy if it
had blown like this last night! Right on shore it would have been, and
not a boat could have gone near it.  We could not possibly have taken
the soldiers off, to say nothing about their guns."

In half an hour the motor-lighters were evidently in difficulties.  In
order to keep their screws in the water they had to be much ballasted
down by the stern. This made their bluff bows come right out of the
water; and every sea hitting them, besides almost stopping their way,
tended to throw them off their course.  They could not steer properly,
yawing this way, yawing that; and it was impossible for them to keep up
with the five and a half knots of the tug, which was then about the
speed she was towing the picket-boats.

She stopped and, as the motor-lighters struggled towards her, hailed
them, and made two come alongside, abreast each other, on each side of
her.  She made them fast, and with them working their motors and doing
their best to steer, she went on again.  But you can imagine what a
terribly clumsy "tow" they made, bumping into each other, bumping into
the tug, simply covered with spray minute after minute.

"Look here, sir," said Marchant presently, as the weather rapidly grew
worse; "if those lighters break adrift, they’ll come down on us and
finish us."

"What d’you want to do?"

"I’d like to slip, and try and get along by ourselves. We can do it,
sir; she’s a very good steamer."

The Orphan didn’t know quite what to do.  He realized the danger, but he
didn’t relish the idea of steaming nearly fifty miles to wind’ard, in
the teeth of the rapidly rising wind.

However, he realized that Marchant probably knew, better than he did,
what the boat could or could not do; so he agreed.

He seized the megaphone and yelled to the Cheese-mite to slip his
tow-rope.  The Cheese-mite, who also had raised steam, wanted to know
where he was going.

"Make for Mudros!" yelled the Orphan.

"D’you know the way?"

"The coxswain does."

"I’ll follow you," the Cheese-mite shouted, as the tow-rope fell into
the water.

The two of them swerved outside the clumsy motor-lighters and gradually
forged ahead, lost sight of them, and went plunging into the head seas,
steering by compass and by the glow of the fires of Anzac.  In a very
short time they had to batten down everything—the forepeak hatch, the
engine-room, and the stokehold hatches.  The Orphan and Marchant (who
had taken off his boots and oilskin) were wet through, waves washed a
foot deep over the picket-boat, and she made very little progress.

For two hours they struggled on; but by that time a regular gale was
blowing, driving a short steep sea in front of it so fiercely that the
picket-boat not only made scarcely any way, but could hardly keep her
bows to it.

"We can’t do it, sir," Marchant at last said, when, at one extra lurch,
two of the spare water-barricoes (full they were) tore themselves from
their lashings round the engine-room casings and went overboard. "We
haven’t enough water now—to say nothing of coal."

"We’ll have to go back, sir!" he shouted.

"Right-o!" yelled the Orphan, clinging to the rail round the cabin, and
not at all liking the idea of turning the boat round in such a sea.

Very gently Marchant edged her round; a wave buried her bows and threw
her over; she righted herself, and the next wave, catching her almost
broadside on, simply flung her on her beam-ends.  For a moment the
Orphan thought she would never right herself; then she did with a jerk,
a wave came green almost over the wheel, the picket-boat lurched more
heavily than before.  The Orphan, swept off his feet, clung to the rail,
and by the time he had gained his feet again she was round, and going
ahead with the waves roaring after her, lifting her stern, foaming over
the counter and trying to fling it round.  He groped his way aft,
clinging to the cabin rail, and found that already there were two feet
of water in the stern-sheets.

He suddenly remembered "Kaiser Bill", jumped down into the water, went
into the cabin, and found his box floating about.  He took it out into
the moonlight, and was much relieved when the tortoise peeped out of his
shell to see what all the "bobbery" was about.  He jammed the box in a
rack inside the cabin, near the top of it, and went back to the wheel.

"Much, sir?" Marchant asked anxiously.

"Two feet!" the Orphan shouted, and told him about rescuing "Kaiser

"I’d forgotten all about him, sir.  We’re all right now, he’ll bring us
through.  We must get that water out of her."

The Orphan knew that the ejector was choked, so he made his way for’ard,
clinging to the wire round the engine-room casings, the funnel-stays,
and the gun-mounting, to call two of the men, huddled down under the
forepeak, to come aft and bale the water out with buckets.

They came and worked hard, but the waves constantly lopped in, and the
amount of water diminished very slowly.  He knew that if her stern swung
round and she "broached to", the seas would fill the big stern-sheets
completely, and as he could not trust to the engine-room bulkhead being
watertight, she would probably sink.  He understood then why Marchant
had taken off his boots and oilskin.

He went back to the steering-wheel.

Just then the stokehold hatch opened, the stoker drew himself out, and
scrambled cautiously aft.  He began unlashing one of the two remaining
barricoes of water, when a sudden lurch of the boat threw him off his
feet, and he slid overboard.

Like lightning Marchant, shouting "Take the wheel, sir!" jumped in front
of the protecting shield, flung himself down, gripping the wire round
the engine-room casing with one hand, leant over the gunwale, and seized
the stoker almost before he had fallen completely over the side.  There
was the crash of something being overturned, the sizzle of red-hot
cinders falling in the water, and Marchant, with a jerk, wrenched the
man against the boat’s side.  He gripped the life-line; Marchant gave a
heave, and he climbed on board again.  It all happened in the twinkling
of an eye.

Marchant came back and took the wheel.

"Pretty quick work, that!" the Orphan said. "He’d have been drowned; we
couldn’t have turned round to pick him up."

"No; it wouldn’t have been safe," Marchant shouted back, meeting a
vicious swerve of the stern with a touch of helm.

"Look at my hands and face, sir," he said, when the picket-boat had
quieted herself.  "I knocked over that bogey; it hadn’t gone out, and
the cinders burnt me or scalded me when they fell into the water."

By the moonlight the Orphan saw that his face and hands were very red.

"I can’t see that _Lord Nelson’s_ boat, sir," Marchant shouted in a
minute or two.  "She ought to have seen us turn and followed.  I can’t
see her now."

The Orphan looked astern and could see nothing. In ordinary
circumstances he would have gone back to look for her; but with that
raging, roaring, steep sea racing after them, both he and Marchant knew
this was now out of the question.

The only thing they could do they did; Marchant going aft, lighting a
lantern, and lashing it to show astern.

He left the wheel to the Orphan.

By the time Marchant came back the tug hove in sight, tossing and
tumbling in the white foaming seas, evidently standing by two
motor-lighters which had broken adrift and were almost hidden in spray,
broadside-on to the waves.  They saw nothing of the other two.

They passed them, and caught up with one of the other picket-boats.
Marchant roared through his megaphone for her to keep Kephalo Light well
clear to port because of the "submarine detector" nets. He knew where
they were, and this steamboat seemed to be steering for them.

"There’s one caught in them, over there, sir!" Marchant shouted,
pointing far away to port.  "She’ll probably drift on to the rocks."

"Can’t we go and help?" the Orphan shouted, knowing full well that this
was impossible, for once the propeller fouled those nets his picket-boat
would be helpless, and drift on the rocks herself when the waves tore
her out of the nets.

Marchant shook his head.

In half an hour they had Kephalo Light a couple of miles on their port
beam; half an hour later they had edged the picket-boat into
comparatively smooth water, and by eleven o’clock that night they went
in through the gate in the submarine net at Kephalo, and ran alongside
the _Achates_.

By this time Marchant’s face and hands had begun to swell and blister
from that scald or burn, and were very painful.

The Orphan sent him inboard to Dr. Gordon, and took his steamboat round
the sunken breakwater ships alongside the landing-place.  Then he
stumbled, wet through and fearfully tired, up to the wooden hut, woke
the Fierce One, and reported himself.

He became horribly unpopular, and was ordered to report in the morning.
So back he went to the picket-boat, tied her up alongside the sunken
Oruba; and he and his crew went to sleep, and would have slept for ever,
if the crew of another picket-boat, tied up close to them, had not given
them a "shake" next morning.

In the forenoon the Orphan was sent outside the harbour to search for
the other picket-boats which had not arrived.  He saw the Cheese-mite’s
boat hard and fast on shore, and another breaking up not far from her.
He expected that the crews had swum or scrambled ashore (they had done
so); but the seas ran much too high for him to go in and give
assistance, so back he came into harbour and reported this.

"Hum!" growled the Fierce One.  "You don’t belong to me any more; go
back to your ship."

The tired midshipman, thinking that he had disgraced himself, went back.

Bubbles met him at the top of the gangway—his face redder, and his
chuckling, snorting noises louder than ever.  "Orphan!  Orphan!" he
blurted out; "you and I are off to ’W’ beach.  The Sub went there
yesterday, and we’re going to-night.  Really—honour bright!" as he saw
that the Orphan thought that his leg was being "pulled".

"Phew!  That’s grand!  My word, what luck!" the Orphan burst out, his
tired eyes lighting up as he realized that Bubbles meant it.

Marchant, with his left hand bandaged up and his face all oily and red,
was waiting to go down into the boat.

"Good-bye!" the Orphan said.  "We’ve had a splendid time together,
haven’t we?  Good luck to you!" and darted away to see the Commander and
get his orders; but then, remembering "Kaiser Bill", ran back again.

"He’s all right; they’re bringing him up along with your gear," Bubbles
told him.  "I’ll look after everything.  You do look a prize burglar!"

He found the Commander.  "Yes, you are to go across in a trawler—about
five o’clock.  The Captain wishes to see you."

So aft he went, and found Captain Macfarlane in his cabin smoking a
cigarette, as usual.

"Hum!" he said, smiling when he saw how unkempt the Orphan looked, his
face dirty, and his clothes hardly dry from last night’s soaking.  "Hum,
Mr. Orpen!  We don’t seem to be able to carry on this war without you,
do we?  You have to go across to ’W’ beach to-night, and you’ll probably
be there for some time."

"Are they going to evacuate Helles, sir?" the Orphan asked.

"I expect you will be able to tell me that, when you’ve been there a few
days.  You were out in that gale last night, I hear, and the only one of
those five boats to get back.  Hum!  You seem lucky."

"We had ’Kaiser Bill’ on board.  Old Fletcher, the stoker, made me take

"Oh! was that it?" smiled the Captain, tugging his beard.  "Well, off
you go, and good luck to you! You’ll have plenty of shells to dodge—over
there. You’d better take ’Kaiser Bill’ with you."

"I will, sir, if Fletcher lets me."  And the Orphan, hugely happy and
delighted, went away to the gun-room to tell all his adventures.

At four o’clock that afternoon Bubbles and the Orphan stood at the top
of the accommodation ladder, with all the clothes and gear they wanted
in two ordinary sailor’s kit-bags, and their bedding made up in two
bundles.  On top of the bundles rested "Kaiser Bill’s" wooden box, with
the tortoise inside.  Old Fletcher had come aft, and was "fussing" round

"We’ll look after him all right.  Thank you for lending him!" they
called out as they went down into the Hun’s steam pinnace.  "Kaiser
Bill" and their gear were carried down after them, and the Hun took them
across to the waiting trawler.

By five o’clock the _Achates_ was once more out of sight, and the
trawler was steaming towards Cape Helles with the remnants of last
night’s gale on her starboard beam.  The two midshipmen both wore once
again the khaki which the Fierce One had forbidden, the same clothes
they had worn when they left "W" beach at the end of May, six months and
a half ago; and they felt supremely happy, crouching in the lee of the
trawler’s galley, and watching the island of Kephalo gradually fading
out of sight till darkness hid it altogether.

At half-past six the trawler ran alongside a sunken steamer—the outer
hulk of Pier No. 1; a steamboat came for them, and landed them and their
gear at No. 3 Pier—the pier they had watched being commenced by the
Sappers the very day of the landing. By the light of a single lantern
they found the Pier-master—a Sub-lieutenant, R.N.R.—and were ordered to
report themselves to the Naval Transport Officer.

"You’d better go up to the Mess," the R.N.R. Sub told them.  "You’ll
probably find him up there."

He gave them two men to carry their gear, and with "Kaiser Bill" under
the Orphan’s arm they stumbled along the pier in the dark till their
feet scrunched into the sand on "W" beach.

"What a time since we were here!" Bubbles blurted out; and: "Isn’t it
grand to get back again?" the Orphan chuckled.

There were no flares now, the shore was absolutely dark.

They started off along the beach towards where the main gully road used
to be; but everything had so changed, and it was so dark, that they soon
had to let the two seamen with their bundles lead the way—off that
beach, up a broad, firm road, turning to the left along a narrow path,
then down some wooden steps, and so to a dark "cutting" in the side of
the slope, at the end of which a glow of light showed through
half-opened folding-doors.

"Here’s the Officers’ Mess, sir.  Glad to see you on shore, sir," said
one of the seamen; and the Orphan recognized Plunky Bill’s voice.

"Hello!  You here?  How are things going?"

"Pretty quiet, sir; nothing much doing."

"Are they going to evacuate the place?"

"I ain’t ’eard nothing.  We’ve been landing a good many of the soldiers
round from Suvla—a good show—down there, sir.  I ain’t ’eard nothing
about nobody going off."

Bubbles, looking in through the doors and seeing no one inside, asked
him where the Sub was.

"Don’t see much of him, sir.  I works down at No. 1 Pier—mostly.  Well,
we’ll stick your gear ’ere.  Some of the officers will be a-coming up

"’Kaiser Bill’ has come along—for luck," the Orphan said; and Plunky
Bill stepped into the lamp-light from the half-open door to have a look
at him in his box.

"’E will bring luck all right, sir.  I wish we’d ’ad ’im at that there
Ajano place."

Then they were left alone, went inside through the door—evidently the
folding-doors from the saloon of one of the sunken steamers—into a
pantry sort of place, through it into a long room some 9 feet high, 20
feet long, and 12 feet broad, with a wooden floor and a wooden ceiling,
from which an oil-lamp hung—the lamp which had glowed through the
doorway—over a long wooden table littered with newspapers, and with a
wooden bench on either side of it.  At the far end was a
fire-place—alight and burning cosily—some deck chairs round it, a
packing-case full of coal in the corner, and a very dilapidated

"Look how they make cupboards!" said Bubbles excitedly, and pointed to
two shell-boxes let into the clay walls.  "Isn’t that ’cute’?"

Then from outside came a loud voice.  "My jumping Jimmy!  D’you think
I’m going to land a hundred tons of hay a night like this?  Not if I
know it.  It would all get soaked.  Tell him to wait till the morning;
the sea will have gone down by then."

The Sub came in, calling out: "Outside!  Outside! Pantry!  Pantry!
Bring me a bottle of beer!"  And seeing the two midshipmen, burst out
with: "Yoicks, my merry kippers!  My bubbling Bubbles!  My perishing
Orphan!  Pantry!  Pantry!  Bring three bottles!"

"They’ve sent you two here, have they?  Good egg!  Well, you’ll have
lots to do, and a lot of shell-dodging.  They’ve got a better brand in
stock now—burst every time.  Hello!  There goes one!" he said, as the
roaring thud of a bursting shell came from somewhere up the ridge, and
some bits of dried clay broke away from the walls and rattled down on
the wooden floor.  "That fell in the Ordnance Stores. They’ve had a lot
there lately."

"Where’s it from?  Achi Baba?" asked the Orphan.

"Old ’Asiatic Annie’—a 6-inch.  She’s a confounded nuisance.  What d’you
think of my ’dug-out’?  Come and see where I ’pig’ it;" and the Sub took
them past the fire-place into a little room beyond, and, flashing his
electric torch, showed them two beds, a small table, cupboard places in
the mud walls, a stove, and two little wash-stands—evidently taken out
of a ship.  "We’ve got lots of stuff from these sunken hulks.  Snug
little place, isn’t it?—especially when we light the stove in the

"Are we going to live here?" the midshipmen asked.

"Good heavens, no, my wriggling worms!  You won’t live with the
aristocracy.  Come along, and I’ll show you your ’pigsty’—another
’dug-out’, which we call the dormitory."

A fine-looking old Leading Seaman, an old Naval Reserve man named
Richards—he may have been fifty, he may have been sixty—came in with the
three glasses of beer, just as another tremendous roar shook the wooden
beams overhead and made the tin lamp-shade rattle—it sounded not twenty
yards away.

"In the Sappers’ place, that one, sir; they’re starting early to-night,"
the old chap said, putting the tray on the table.

"Send these officers’ gear round to the dormitory; you’ll find it
outside," the Sub told him.

"They’ve gone already, sir," Richards said.

"What’s on top of those beams?" the Orphan asked, a little anxiously, as
another roaring explosion thudded the air, not quite so near as the

"A new tarpaulin, my Orphan!  I stole it yesterday. It’s waterproof,

"Can those things come in here?"

"There’s nothing to prevent ’em," grinned the Sub. "Come along, and
we’ll peg out a claim for you two in the dormitory.  Hello!  what the
devil have you got there?" he said, seeing "Kaiser Bill’s" box on the
table, and opening it, roared with laughter.  "Old Fletcher made you
bring him?"

"He made me take him for Suvla evacuation—for luck—and the Captain told
me I’d better bring him here, as he’d brought luck there."

"Are they going to evacuate this place?" they both asked at the same

The Sub shook his head.  "I don’t think so.  So you were at Suvla?  Of
course you were; you’ll have to tell me all about it.  What a splendid
show that was!  Our chaps here made a pretence of advancing that same
day—lost a lot of people."

By now he had taken them through the cutting. "That’s the kitchen," he
said, as he took them out of the mess and they passed a place with a
light in it; "old Richards looks after it, and us, like a mother."  He
led them through another deep cutting, and through an opening closed by
a door—evidently a door taken from the cabin of one of the sunken hulks.
"More loot," the Sub said, switching on his torch and leading the way
into a long place with a few planks laid over the clayey earth, with
earth walls and a timber roof.  Six beds were already there, with bags
between them, and their own bundles lay, lonely, in the middle.

He showed them a corner where they could spread out their beds.  "I’ll
get some planks put there in the morning," he told them.  "You’d better
come along and see the Captain now; he’ll be up in his ’dug-out’ by this
time, I expect."

As they went out on to the open slope, climbed up to a road which ran
immediately at the back of the dormitory, another high-explosive shell
burst high up the ridge, lighting up a few white tents.

The Orphan winced and Bubbles chuckled.

Then it was all dark again.  "Mind those steps; keep close to me; here
we are," and the Sub took them along another cutting to the Naval
Transport Officer’s "dug-out".

They found this naval Captain there, washing the sand off his face.

"Two of our midshipmen, sir; the two we expected."

He turned round—a short, thick-set man with a bullet-shaped, closely
cropped head—and he wiped the soap-suds off his mahogany-coloured face.

"All right; the Sub will show you where to go; glad to have you," and he
waved them away.

They went back towards the Mess.

"You’ll have to take charge of a picket-boat," the Sub told Bubbles;
"and you, Orphan, will have to do odd jobs under me—all sorts of things:
cleaning up the camp, fetching coal, any old thing.  Ah! look out! here
comes another!"

They heard the whistling swish of a shell, and then another glare, and
another tremendous explosion burst, just the other side of the Naval

Instinctively they had thrown themselves down on the ground; something
hurtled past and buried itself in the sand close by; and as they
scrambled to their feet the Sub said angrily: "Confound them!  Come
along back to the Mess; you can have a wash in my basin, and then it
will be time for dinner."

Two soldiers—a Major and a subaltern, the Military Landing Officers—a
R.N.R. lieutenant, and two R.N.R. sub-lieutenants came in at odd times
for dinner.  The Sub hurried through his meal, put on a thick coat, and
warmed himself in front of the fire before going down to the beach.

"Is there much to do to-night?" asked one of the soldier officers—the

"Absolutely nothing, old chap, except to get off a tug, two steamboats,
something like half a dozen lighters driven ashore last night; try and
repair about twenty feet of No. 1 Pier washed away by the other gale,
and see what can be done with the ’Inner Hulk’—she broke her back when
the pier ’went’, and we’ll have to try and get a gangway across the gap;
otherwise I can’t think of anything."

Two of the R.N.R. officers went with him, but he sent the two midshipmen
to turn in.  Neither of them had had any proper sleep for three days,
and they both had been nodding and yawning, and looking stupidly tired
all through that meal.

So they turned in, put "Kaiser Bill" between them for luck, and slept
like "tops".

                            *CHAPTER XXIII*

                    *"In ’Dug-outs’ at Cape Helles"*

Richards, that splendid old Leading Seaman who "ran" the Mess, brought
them both a cup of tea in the morning.  "Four bells just struck, sirs;
breeze gone round to the north-east, pretty nippy outside it is, but
fine.  Hands ’fall in’ at half-past six."  He lighted an oil-lamp and
left them.

Bubbles snuggled down under the blankets and would have gone to sleep
again, had not the Orphan pulled them off him and made him turn out.

They dressed hurriedly, saw that "Kaiser Bill" was safe in his corner;
and by seven o’clock, just before the dawn commenced, Bubbles had taken
charge of a very much battered, old picket-boat lying alongside No. 3
Pier; and the Orphan, with a party of five stokers, was sent up behind
the Mess to deepen a shallow gutter-way between it and the road, to
prevent rain washing off the road on to the top of the dormitory and
that new tarpaulin which the Sub had stolen.

He met the Sub coming back from his night’s work on the beach, wet
through and very fagged.  "I got some of those lighters off, but there’s
another week’s work down there at that job," he said.

When daylight came, the Orphan found that "W" beach had altered very
much since he had been there, six months and a half ago.  The cliffs
beyond were crowned by a vast number of hospital tents and marquees;
where, previously, the horse and mule "lines" had been, tents and
marquees, and huge masses of stores, protected by tarpaulins, now
occupied these spaces, and the irregular sandy track up the gully to the
ridge had become a wide well-made road with well-metalled roads
branching away to left and right.  Everywhere there were "dug-outs", not
open ones as in those early days, but covered with wooden or
galvanized-iron roofs, over which at least one protecting layer of
sand-bags had been laid. Motor-lorries dashed along the roads
continuously, and seemed to have taken the place of horses and mules
almost entirely.

Along the face of the steep cliff, on the far side of the gully from
where those one-inch Nordenfeldts and maxims had played such havoc among
the Lancashire Fusiliers on the day of the landing, a steep road had
been cut in the face of it, and the Orphan saw hundreds of "dug-outs" up

Fifty yards below him was the beach itself, with its four little
piers—No. 1 Pier to his right, with a gap in it made by the first of the
south-west gales; beyond it the "Inner Hulk", a sunken steamer with her
back broken; and beyond her, at right angles, another sunken steamer,
the "Outer Hulk".  At his feet was No. 2 Pier, the first pier the
Sappers had begun on the 25th April; and beyond this the longer No. 3
Pier, with its end curving towards the "Outer Hulk", so that a small
harbour[#] had been formed in which now lay two little "coaster"
steamers, several lighters, and a trawler.

[#] This harbour was called Port Talbot after the Captain of the poor
old _Majestic_.

Beyond and to the left, under the high cliff, was No. 4 Pier, more of a
mole or jetty than a pier, protected a little from the east by a reef of
rocks.  It was on this pier that the Orphan, later on, had so much work
to do.  Farther along still, several lighters had stranded, and one or
two were already broken up.

Out towards Tenedos and over against the Asiatic shore the usual
trawlers and drifters and a couple of destroyers patrolled for

But what struck the Orphan most vividly was the emptiness of the Straits
between him and the Asiatic shore.  In May they had been almost crowded
with battleships, transports, hospital ships, ships of all sorts and
sizes; now a solitary hospital ship lay off Helles, and only two or
three small craft and tugs were anchored inshore.

The Turks fired no shells that morning until the breakfast hour, when
two fell among the Sappers’ stores and tents, without, however, doing
any damage.

After breakfast the Orphan and his stokers had more digging to do,
extending the beach party’s "dug-outs" at the foot of the low cliff,
below the Mess "dug-out", and commencing others.  Shells came over every
now and then all the morning, but none burst near the Orphan’s party.
When they knocked off work and started dinner, the Turks over on the
Asiatic shore fired many big 6-inch high explosives, which did very
little material damage, though they racked his nerves exceedingly.

The Orphan never even pretended that he did not hate those shells; and
when, that afternoon, he received orders to take twenty men, embark in a
tug, and go down to Rabbit Island to draw coal, he felt extremely
pleased to get away from them.  Rabbit Island is a tiny little island at
the mouth of the Straits, and when he arrived there he found two small
monitors with long-range guns busily bombarding the Asiatic guns.  The
Turks were firing back, and when he went alongside the collier to get
his filled coal-bags, one of their wretched shells fell so close to the
tug as to splash the bows.  The Orphan loaded his coal-bags and started
back to "W" beach, realizing that the only thing to do, if he meant to
enjoy himself, was simply not to think of shells at all. Of course, in
twenty-four hours he had made friends with Richards, that Leading
Seaman; and the old man could not help noticing that he flinched
whenever a big shell moaned through the air, and burst with its horrid,
rending roar.  "Look here, sir," he said; "it’s just like this: don’t
you worry about them—it’s no use worrying.  If you’re meant to be
killed, killed you will be, wherever you go or whatever you do; so just
pay no attention to them."

It is difficult for a youngster to take comfort from such a fatalistic
conviction; but by the end of the week the Orphan was able to tell
Bubbles that he had not "ducked" once during the last twenty-four hours.
"That shows I’m not such a duffer, doesn’t it, old chap?" he said

During those first few days a good deal of mysterious landing and
embarking of troops went on, which nobody seemed able to explain—though,
as far as anyone in the Naval Mess knew, many more were coming than
going.  Also, it became known that the new-comers were taking
over—gradually—the French section of the line, and that French troops
and guns embarked every night.  The Turks naturally knew that our men
were occupying the French trenches immediately opposite them, so that
there was no need for secrecy, and many of the French guns were towed
away from "V" beach in broad daylight.  A tug would take away a heavily
loaded lighter at the end of a very long tow-rope, and "Asiatic Annie"
and her sisters often made "towing-target" practice at this lighter and
its guns—though without ever hitting them.

The Orphan himself never went to "V" beach, but Bubbles often did so,
and found quite a good harbour there, made by a big Messageries
Maritimes steamer sunk this side of the _River Clyde_ (apparently none
the worse for her seven months of being shelled), and an obsolete old
French battleship hulk—the _Massena_—sunk almost to close the gap
between them. Whenever the French happened to have a slack night, most
of the British nightly reinforcements (from the 9th Corps, which had
been at Suvla) landed there.

Christmas Day arrived, and the Turks greeted it with a more than usually
heavy shelling of both beaches, the Sappers’ and Ordnance Store Depots
suffering considerably.  This, and an extra good dinner that night—when
Richards produced two turkeys, obtained from one of the Greek islands,
and several officers contributed Christmas puddings and mince-pies, sent
from home by the Christmas mail—marked the day.  Otherwise all work went
on as usual.

Every now and again the French battleship _Suffren_ came along up the
Straits, with her protecting destroyers and trawlers and her "spotting"
aeroplane, and bombarded the Asiatic guns for a couple of hours or so.
At other times a British battleship repeated the performance with even
greater zest; but though those annoying guns remained quiet whilst they
were being bombarded, they always opened a very vigorous fire on the
beaches directly the battleships had left.

On the other side of the Peninsula, round the "left flank" coast,
assisting destroyers very frequently harassed the Turkish trenches on
the Achi Baba right flank, and a big monitor almost daily bombarded Achi
Baba or Chanak Fort with her big 14-inch guns.

Everything went on as usual, and as though we intended to hold the end
of the Peninsula for ever.

Everyone in the Naval Mess was far too busy embarking and disembarking
troops and stores by night, preparing for the winter, strengthening
their "dug-outs", repairing piers, and patching damaged boats by day, to
know exactly what was happening up in the front-line trenches.
Intermittent artillery duels, at all hours of every day, went on in the
usual manner, and without any apparent especial military object. At
night, when working on the piers, they often heard furious bursts of
rifle and machine-gun firing, sometimes the bursting of trench bombs; at
times field-guns also used to "chip in" at night; but everyone had
become so accustomed to all this that no one paid any attention to it or
remarked about it.

Shells fell on the beaches and above them just as usual; 6-inch high
explosives came from the Asiatic side—two or three an hour—from daylight
until two o’clock next morning, at which time the Turkish gunners
"packed up".  During the men’s "stand easy", in the middle of the day,
perhaps twenty would come along; and again, at nine o’clock at night,
they would start fairly brisk firing for three-quarters of an hour.

The Naval Camp, lying as it did just below the R.E. "Park", and not far
from the Ordnance Stores—both favourite targets of "Asiatic Annie
"—received a good many of her misses, and most of the "shorts" fell on
the beach itself.  By this time the men working within this shell area
had become so accustomed and hardened to these intermittent noises of
shells shrieking towards them and bursting, that work was seldom
interrupted.  At night, sentries along the beach would watch for the
glare made by the flash of the Asiatic howitzers, and would call out
"Take cover!"  Eighteen seconds afterwards the shell, if fired at "V"
beach, would burst there; but if fired at "W" beach twenty seconds
elapsed, after the warning shout, before the shell could be heard
rushing through the night air with a rapidly increasing "swishing"
noise.  In twenty-five seconds it arrived, burst with a very vivid flash
and that nerve-shaking, rending roar, and did whatever damage it had
found to do.

Sometimes, in the silence which followed, would be heard the melancholy
call, "Stretcher!  Stretcher!" but most frequently a hole in the ground,
or a few scattered boxes of stores or bundles of fodder, alone marked
where it had fallen and burst.

From Achi Baba came the little 4.1-inch shells at all hours of the day.

People told the Orphan that some ten days after the
Belgrade-Nish-Constantinople railway had been reopened through conquered
Serbia, it became evident that the Turks were much more lavish with
their ammunition.

They must have received ample additional supplies, and, what was still
more noticeable, the new shells nearly always burst.

The Orphan gradually grew accustomed to these shells, but he was always
"mighty" glad when the two big "hates" of the day were finished.

Everyone had marvellous escapes; in fact, marvellous escapes were so
common that the recounting of them soon failed to interest others.

One morning the Orphan was sleeping soundly in the dormitory, and at
about ten o’clock Bubbles, who had somehow or other fallen overboard
from his picket-boat, ran up to shift his wet clothes, and could not
resist the temptation of waking up the Orphan. He had just commenced to
get some sense into him and make him take an interest in his accident,
when in through the roof smashed a shell, passed between the Orphan
sitting on his bed and Bubbles standing over him, buried itself in the
ground, and burst. Bubbles was thrown to the other side of the
dormitory, the Orphan found himself on top of an awakened and angry
R.N.R. Lieutenant, and all three, covered with dust, dashed through the
smoke out into the open air.

"Kaiser Bill!" the Orphan cried, darted back again, and brought out the

"He was under my bed, he wasn’t quite buried; he doesn’t seem to have
been hit."

They tried anxiously to make him put out his head, but he wouldn’t.
Bubbles, seizing him, looked inside the shell.  "He’s all right," he
said, much relieved; "I saw his mouth move."

"I bet that he got the fright of his life,", Bubbles gurgled; and then
noticed that the Orphan’s wrist, the right one, was bleeding, and that
blood was coming through his own soaked trousers.  They found a small
cut on the Orphan’s right wrist, and that Bubbles had a little gash
behind the left knee—quite trivial things, only requiring a bandage
round each.  Actually, that was all the damage done to those two
midshipmen, although the shell had burst immediately behind and between

"Fancy what might have happened if ’Kaiser Bill’ had not been there,"
the superstitious Orphan, a little "shaken", kept saying.

The R.N.R. Lieutenant, having fixed them up with bandages, took them
inside the dormitory to dig their things out again and get the place
tidied up.  They shook the sand and clay from their bedding; dug out the
clothes which had been lying on the floor; found some of the fragments
of the shell, probably a 4.1-inch from Achi Baba; looked at the jagged
hole in the wooden roof; and when Bubbles, having changed his wet
clothes, went away, limping a little, to take charge of his picket-boat
again, the other two turned in and slept until midday.  Directly the
Orphan woke he hunted round for the tortoise, and felt greatly relieved
when he saw "Kaiser Bill’s" cunning old head peeping out.

On the next night it blew hard from the north-east—away from the end of
the Peninsula.  Unfortunately for Bubbles, he had the job, that night,
of towing a big Malta lighter, full of mules, out to a transport, and
when away from the shelter of the land something went wrong with the
tow-rope, and it fouled the screw of his picket-boat.  Both lighter and
picket-boat drifted helplessly out to sea, and eventually became
separated.  It was a bitterly cold night—so dark that you could not see
fifty yards in front of you, and two miles from the end of the Peninsula
a very unpleasant sea was running.  The lighter full of mules drifted
away, but by some lucky chance stranded on Rabbit Island, and Bubbles in
his helpless, waterlogged picket-boat had the luck to be found and
picked up by a patrolling trawler, which towed him into safety.

He did not get back to "W" beach until long after daylight, and was then
sent up to get his breakfast and some sleep.  For some reason or other,
his bed had been moved into the small "sleeping ’dug-out’" at the side
of the Mess opposite to the dormitory, and almost at the same hour as
the day before, a big shell from "Asiatic Annie" came in and completely
wrecked it.  No one else slept there that morning, and he had a most
marvellous escape.  The three empty beds, the wash-stands, and little
stove were destroyed, and a macintosh which he had pulled over his
blankets had several gashes torn in it, but he himself had not a
scratch.  Old Richards, running in through the Mess, and unable to see
owing to the dust and smoke, switched on an electric torch and called
out "Are you all right, sir?" never thinking that he could possibly be

"I woke up," said Bubbles afterwards, bubbling over with excitement,
"and found the whole place blooming dark; everything seemed to be
tumbling down on top of me, and my hair was full of sand and stuff.  I
couldn’t think what was the matter, and the smell of the place was
simply beastly.  It wasn’t till old Richards came in, flashed his torch,
wanted to know whether I was alive or not, and told me a shell had come
in, that I knew what had happened.  It spoilt that new macintosh I paid
one pound ten for yesterday up at the Ordnance, confound it!"

The rest of the morning Bubbles and Richards spent digging out his
"gear".  They found his watch some two feet under the sand, still going,
but the glass cracked.  The "dug-out" was completely wrecked and quite

He shifted back again into the dormitory, but had no more time for
sleep.  "I’ll stick nearer to old ’Kaiser Bill’ another time," he told
the Orphan, poking fun at him and his superstitions.

The very next day, when on his way to the Mess for a hasty lunch, he
stopped to speak to Richards, the Leading Seaman, who had just come out
of the kitchen.  At that moment a shell came past them, fell through the
open kitchen door, and burst inside. Richards calmly put down the tureen
of pea soup which he was carrying, and together they went in through the
smoke to see if anyone had been injured. One man lay dead, and another
had been badly cut about the shoulder by a splinter.  He was carried
away immediately to the Casualty Clearing-station beyond the gully, and
the dead man covered up and removed.  "Poor chap!" Richards muttered,
"he only landed two hours ago for the first time.  It’s a strange thing
how some get picked off, sir, isn’t it?"

"Well, that’s the third close shave for me—in three days too.  I’ll tell
the Orphan that.  He’ll think it tremendously lucky," Bubbles said.

"I shouldn’t like to say that it isn’t, sir," Richards replied

These three "experiences" seemed to have absolutely no effect on this
midshipman’s nerves, and the Orphan marvelled at him, and despised
himself for hating and dreading shells so much.

By now they had made themselves quite cosy in their corner of the
dormitory; a sand-bag was placed over the shell hole in the roof; their
beds were raised from the ground on some planks; they looted a washstand
and a looking-glass from one of the hulks, and had much fun digging
"cupboards" for themselves in the clay walls.

"Kaiser Bill", too, seemed quite at home, and enjoyed his occasional
exercises on the slope below the Mess, waking up, sprinting gaily for
three or four yards, and then sulking because nothing green grew there.
However, they managed to get him green stuff occasionally, and in the
evenings, whenever they were off duty, they took him into the Mess after
dinner, and he became quite frisky in the warmth of the fire. Those
evenings were very jolly after a hard day’s work and a good dinner,
sitting in "deck" chairs in front of the cheerful fire, yarning, and not
worrying much about the shells which, every now and then, burst along
the ridge and made the dry "clayey" walls shake bits down on the wooden
floor—not worrying about them, in spite of the fact that if one fell on
top of the Mess the Sub’s tarpaulin and the timber roof would not keep
it out, nor would the long skylight hatchway, taken bodily out of one of
the hulks and now fitted into the roof of the Mess.

It was one of their amusements to see "Kaiser Bill" "duck" when he heard
a shell burst.  He might be scampering over the floor—or the table—at
the rate of two feet a minute, with his head and neck stretched out, or
be nibbling enthusiastically at a piece of fresh cabbage leaf or onion
stalk; but directly he heard the thud and roar of a shell bursting,
however far away, in would go his head and legs, and nothing would
entice him to put them out again for at least half an hour.

Bubbles and the Orphan always placed him down between their bunks when
they turned in—for luck.

Food was good and plentiful—the army cheese simply grand; water was
fairly plentiful from wells and springs; as for the Ordnance stores,
they could supply everything from an electric torch to a stove, from a
wheelbarrow to a motor bicycle, from a pair of trench gloves to a pair
of india-rubber trench boots coming half-way up your thigh.

In fact, everything went on comfortably, and a week after the two
midshipmen had landed they had entirely forgotten about "evacuation",
and only thought it a joke when a Turkish aeroplane dropped the message:
"Good-bye, British soldiers; we know you are going, and are sorry to
lose you".

Flies had of course disappeared with the cold weather—disappeared long
ago, and the only bothering live things were rats—great, fat, sleek
fellows, who ran hurdle races round the dormitory at night to keep
themselves in good condition, jumping over the sleeping midshipmen and
the other officers there.

One night the Orphan met Bubbles, and saw by his face that something
unusual had occurred.

"What is it?  Any news?"

"They’re sending every one of those Greek labourers[#] away to-night.
They’ve given them two hours to pack up, and you and I have to embark
them.  What does that mean, I wonder?"

[#] Some two hundred Greek labourers had been employed ever since the
landing, and had, for the most part, worked well; constantly under fire.

"Perhaps they’ve caught them spying; making signals or getting
information across to the Turks,’ the Orphan suggested.

"I don’t know; it’s jolly rummy."

"There’s a lot of ammunition to be landed to-night, some time after ten
o’clock," the Sub said, joining them.  "You’ll have to go out in the
lighter, Orphan, so you’ll have a busy time."

Well, just before ten o’clock, when the Orphan had started to warp the
empty lighter away from No. 4 Pier, a messenger came down from the
N.T.O. to tell him that this ammunition was not to be landed, and he
heard afterwards that it went back to Mudros immediately.

This roused their curiosity; and when, next night, three lieutenants and
many more bluejackets arrived, and half a dozen of those motor-lighters
(the "water-beetles") and many more picket-boats came across from
Kephalo, everyone guessed that the final evacuation had been determined

And, on the last day of the year, Captain Macfarlane came to take charge
of the elaborate organization required to embark all the troops, guns,
horses, and stores without the knowledge of the Turks.  He became Senior
Naval Transport Officer, and lived in his big "dug-out" along a path cut
in the cliff beyond the Naval Mess, and known as "Park Lane" because all
the senior officers had their "dug-outs" there.

The Sub, Bubbles, and the Orphan were immensely pleased that he had
come—he had such a kind, good-humoured way of giving orders, and nothing
ever flustered him.

From now onward, there were no more troops or stores to disembark; but
the work of sending away the enormous accumulation of stores, and of
gradually withdrawing troops, guns, horses, and mules, went on at high
pressure.  This took place at night.  After dark, transports and store
ships would come across from Kephalo or Mudros, anchor off "W" beach or
"V" beach (which now had been handed over by the French to the British),
and all through the dark hours large "soldier" working parties and the
Naval beach parties would toil, carrying down the most valuable of the
Ordnance and Sappers’ and Commissariat stores, and loading them in
lighters (wooden lighters, which had to be towed, or motor-lighters).
When full, these would be sent off to the store ships, unloaded, and
sent back again.  Every night a troop-carrier would come slowly
alongside the "Outer Hulk", make fast, and battalions of infantry, with
their baggage and their maxims, would be taken across to her in
motor-lighters from No. 3 Pier.  Every night, too, many horses and many
mules went off to the big transports anchored farther out, and were
hoisted on board.

An hour and a half before dawn, every steamship, transport, and
troop-carrier had to be away and out of sight; and if, as the time for
departure arrived, any still had half-emptied lighters alongside, tugs
would dash out and bring them back.  Nothing whatever was allowed to
delay these big ships, because upon their arrival and departure being
absolutely hidden from the Turks the whole success of the operation

At one time, before the first of those south-west gales had broken a gap
in No. 1 Pier, it had been possible to walk along it, then up a gangway
on board the "Inner Hulk", and from her to the "Outer Hulk", and so on
board anything lying alongside her.  This had made the embarking and
disembarking of troops a very simple and rapid process; and as
simplicity and rapidity would be so necessary on the last night of the
evacuation, attempts were made to bridge the gap.  The Orphan took part
in this, working in the day-time under the orders of the Pier-master, a
Naval lieutenant named Armstrong, a great solid man who always spoke
extremely deliberately, weighing every syllable, and never appearing to
get even mildly excited.

First of all a big pontoon was wedged in the gap, but did not quite fill
it; the vacant intervals were then closed by means of barrels lashed
stoutly together and held in place by wires and hawsers.  If anything
did go wrong, Mr. Armstrong would fill his pipe and say: "I
will—have—to—reeve—another—pretty—big—wire—there"; or,
"I—say—Orpen—we—shall—have—to— lay—out—another—anchor—go—round—and—find—

When at last these were all fixed to his liking, a broad wooden gangway
platform was laid over all, between the broken-away ends of the gap.

This business occupied two whole days, during which time the Orphan had
generally more wet clothes than dry.  "If—you—don’t—take—care—you’ll—get
—your—feet—wet," Mr. Armstrong told him one day, after he had been
wading up to his waist in the shallow water, on and off for an hour.

Troops now could march straight on board the "Inner Hulk", then across
to the "Outer Hulk", and so to whatever troop-carrier happened to be
alongside her.  This naturally relieved the congestion at No. 2 and No.
3 Piers, from which horses and stores were embarked.

But the job which the Orphan liked best was down at No. 4 Pier, working
with the Sub and a very energetic warrant officer, getting off guns,
motor-lorries, motor field-workshops, "caterpillar" traction engines,
and motor ambulances.

Before dark they would get a couple of lighters alongside this pier,
make them fast to the wall, then dash up to the Mess for a rapid dinner,
and down again about an hour after dark, when the guns would commence to
come rumbling down the ridge to the beach—field-guns, stumpy howitzers,
and long 60-pounders.

Horse teams or "caterpillar" tractors dragged them through the sand to
just above No. 4 Pier, unhitched, and left them there with their
"crews". Then the beach party on the pier would make "fast" hook-ropes,
and hauling on them, whilst the artillerymen man-handled the spokes of
gun and limber wheels, along would come the gun and its limber, jolting
aboard the lighter.

One after the other the guns would be coaxed aboard until the lighter
could hold no more.  Then the artillerymen, picking up their rifles and
kits, would scramble on board, squat down between the gun wheels, cling
on to the spokes, stow themselves away anywhere so long as they did not
get in the way of the lighter’s crew, who now hauled on a warp-rope,
made "fast" to the end of No. 3 Pier, and warped the heavily laden
lighter away from the wall of No. 4 Pier.

A picket-boat, waiting there, would get hold of her, and tow her out to
the plucky and beautifully handled little tug T1.  Then away she would
be towed by that tug to search for the transport which had anchored off
Cape Helles after dark.  Presently the big ship would loom up, the
lighter would be towed alongside, made "fast" under a derrick, and left
there to unload.  If any very heavy guns, or heavy, cumbrous things such
as motor-lorries or "caterpillar" tractors, went off, the Sub or the
Gunner always took charge of the lighter; but if the load consisted of
field-guns, or such things as "general service" wagons, he sent the

This was just the job the Orphan enjoyed—the taking charge of the
soldier officers and their artillerymen, the warping off from No. 4
Pier, the tow-out in the darkness of those very dark nights, the job of
getting his lighter safely secured to the big ship, and the delicate
business of safely slinging each gun and limber or wagon to the ship’s
derrick "purchase". The purchase would be lowered with its great hook,
the slings of one gun slipped over it, the Orphan would shout "Hoist
away!" and whilst that gun dangled overhead in the dark, would busily
secure the slings to the next, so that time should not be wasted when
the purchase-hook came down again. It sometimes took a couple of hours
to unload a lighter, but this depended entirely upon the officers and
crew of the transport ship.  One ship—the _Queen Louise_—would do the
work in half the time which some others occupied.

The Orphan always felt so happy when the last wagon or the last gun of
any particular load had been hoisted out of the lighter.  It was so
grand to know that "that little lot" would not fall into the hands of
the Turks.  Best of all, it was such fun to be hoodwinking "the old
Turk" all this while.

Generally, from the time a loaded lighter shoved off from No. 4 Pier
until she returned alongside, empty, at least two hours had elapsed, and
as it often took an hour—sometimes a good deal more—to load up again,
each lighter seldom made more than two trips a night.

Practically all this work went on in complete darkness.  There was no
moonlight, and the only lights allowed to be shown were small oil-lamps,
one on each pier, and one on the far end of the "Outer Hulk".
Fortunately, what breeze blew during the first nine nights came from the
north-east, and did not interfere with the work; on most of these nights
the air was absolutely still and the sea absolutely calm.

Before leaving off work in the morning, they would see that any guns
remaining on the beach or in the lighters were carefully covered up with
tarpaulins, so that the Turks could not see them from their inquisitive
aeroplanes, which constantly came circling over, trying to find out what
the British really intended to do.

Then, perhaps at half-past seven in the morning, thoroughly worn out,
probably nearly wet through, back they would drag themselves up to the
Mess, find Richards always ready for them with cocoa or coffee, bacon,
sometimes eggs, and have their breakfast. Afterwards they would "turn

"My perishing Orphan!" the Sub would say, as he threw himself on his
bed.  "That’s not a bad night’s work—twelve guns, and any number of
wagons and things.  But I’m pretty well fagged out, and you look ’done
to a turn’."

They would sleep till the middle of the day, get up, wash, have lunch,
and probably go to sleep again till four or half-past.  Then a good
"high tea" Richards would provide for them; and, after that, all those
who were on night duty—nearly all in fact—gathered in the Mess, smoked
and yarned, and told how things were "going"—how many troops, how many
guns, how many horses and mules, and how much stores had been safely
sent away the night before.

Everyone knew and felt that every man, every gun, horse or mule, every
motor-lorry, every ton of stores and ammunition sent off was so much to
the good; and everyone—especially as the day for the final evacuation
drew nearer—grew anxious lest the Turks should find out what was
happening, and lest the gentle north-east breeze should give place to a
south-westerly wind, which would drive seas against the different
beaches, and delay—perhaps fatally delay—the final embarkation.

There was always the chance of this, and of the two or three thousand
last troops to come marching back from the empty trenches being hotly
pressed by the Turks, and of them and the whole of the beach parties
finding it impossible to get off.  To the Orphan, and to many more; it
also seemed so absolutely unbelievable that the Turks could be deceived
again; and they thought that they must really know about what was going
on, and were only waiting until the trenches were so weakly held that
they could make a successful assault, drive all that remained down to
the sea, and capture them.

                             *CHAPTER XXIV*

                    *The Evacuation of Cape Helles*

Friday morning, the 7th January, came, and the Turks had given no sign
whatever that they guessed what was going on.  Shells burst as usual,
and "Cuthbert", the aeroplane, circled overhead, saw what he could,
dropped a few bombs on the ridge above "W" beach and near the old _River
Clyde_, and went home again before our own pursuing aeroplanes could
catch him.

At two o’clock that afternoon the Turks commenced a fierce bombardment
of the whole front-line trenches. The Asiatic guns tried to enfilade
them, too, and for nearly three hours every gun they possessed blazed
away for all it was worth.

The few guns we had remaining did their utmost to conceal the smallness
of their numbers by the rapidity of their fire, though, naturally,
everyone imagined that the Turks must realize how few they were.

At five o’clock the Turks evidently intended to storm the front which
they had battered so severely, but, except on our extreme left, their
men could not be induced to leave their trenches.

But here some five or six hundred did advance, and, unfortunately for
them, came in full view of a battleship which had but lately come out
from England, fearfully keen to fire her guns, and now happened to be
zigzagging along the coast, attracted by the continual roar of the
Turkish artillery.  Eagerly looking for something to fire at, she saw,
all at once, these poor devils of Turks streaming out of their trenches
across open ground, and let go salvo after salvo into the middle of
them.  Not two hundred came anywhere near our thinly held trenches; some
twenty reached them, and were promptly bayoneted; perhaps a dozen got
back to their own.  After this no further attack was made, and all
firing died down at dusk.

The "last night but one" commenced.

All night long the work went on; more troops (after their nerve-shaking
experience of that afternoon’s three hours’ bombardment) marched down
with their baggage and their maxims, filed along No. 1 Pier across the
"hulks" into the _Ermine_ and other troop-carriers, and were taken away.
Many of the still remaining guns came back and were sent off from No. 4
Pier; very many horses were embarked from No. 3 Pier; and soldiers, like
ants, streamed backwards and forwards between the beach and those store
depots, bringing down stores and hurrying back for more.

All night long the Orphan listened with tingling ears for the sound of
anything more than the customary sniping and passing bursts of nervous
rifle-firing. But the Turks had had a sufficiently severe handling in
the afternoon; they made no attempt to attack, and the night passed
absolutely quietly, daylight on Saturday morning coming with everything
going on just as usual.  The troop-carriers, horse-transports, and store
ships were long since hidden in Kephalo, or below the horizon on their
way to Mudros; and though the aeroplane came over to reconnoitre and be
driven home again, there was nothing unusual for it to report.

Exactly how many troops remained or how many guns, neither Bubbles nor
the Orphan knew; but they did know that the very scantiest number of
troops held the first-line trenches, and that the guns could almost be
counted on fingers and toes.  All these troops had to be got off that
night, and almost all the guns.

"Would the weather hold for the last night?"  That was what everyone
asked himself.  The sun rose behind Achi Baba not quite so clearly as it
had done throughout the past week, but the breeze still blew gently from
the north-east, and hardly a cloud flecked the blue sky.

Captain Macfarlane, tugging at his pointed beard, looked satisfied, and
went up to his "dug-out" for breakfast and to turn in, after his
all-night’s work, and sleep for a few hours.

Bubbles, who had spent the night at "V" beach in his picket-boat, pulled
the sleepy Orphan along the path to the Mess.  "What d’you think I had
last night?  A bath—a hot bath—aboard the _River Clyde_! It was the last
drop of hot water she had aboard her, for a shell came in half an hour
before and cut a steam-pipe or something.  Wasn’t I lucky?"

They had this their last breakfast in Gallipoli, and then lay down on
their beds and slept.

At midday they were called, turned out—horribly sleepy—and began to roll
up their bedding and pack up the rest of their "gear", ready to be taken
down to the beach.  Most of the officers spent the morning doing the

The barometer had now begun to fall—ever so slightly—-and some clouds to
gather in the west, low down in the horizon, behind the island of

Everyone felt a little anxious.

At three o’clock in the afternoon the breeze definitely shifted round to
the south-west—the dangerous quarter—and all knew that if it increased
much it would drive seas right on to the beaches, and add tremendously
to the difficulties of this last night’s work.

At five o’clock that afternoon many of the officers gathered in the
Mess, which they were leaving for ever, and drank to the success of the
evacuation. "Kaiser Bill" was taken out of his box, placed on the table,
and drank a little milk out of a saucer for "good luck"; then Bubbles
took him away to his picket-boat to make certain that he would not be
left behind, _whatever happened_; and everybody went down to the beach
and their different jobs, looking doubtfully and anxiously at the sun
setting behind a gloomy bank of clouds, and the little "white horses"
which already ruffled the surface of the sea.

"It will be all right," the Orphan told the Sub confidently as they
walked down to No. 4 Pier.  "If "Kaiser Bill" hadn’t drunk his milk we
might have been rather miserable."

"You _are_ a silly ass," the Sub laughed.

Night fell.  The breeze freshened steadily, and the two lighters
alongside No. 4 Pier already banged up against the stone wall in a very
uncomfortable manner.

Presently some of those remaining guns began rumbling over the ridge to
the beach, and their teams went round to No. 3 Pier, or cantered back
over the ridge, with a jangle of harness and thudding of hoofs, to fetch

When the first lighter had been loaded—with field-guns mostly—her crew
hauled her off by the warps, the south-west breeze blowing freshly in
their faces, and the little waves already splashing against her bows.  A
picket-boat took hold of her and handed her over to tug T1, which towed
her away to sea.

The Orphan went with this first load, and found it a very different
matter to-night.  Though the breeze had not yet attained any great
strength, a slight, lumpy sea and swell ran, outside, and when he at
last reached the transport’s huge side he had much difficulty in
bringing the clumsy, heavily loaded lighter alongside and making her
"fast".  As it was, she bumped and rose and fell so much that it took
nearly two hours to hoist out all those guns, and their "crews", laden
with their heavy kits, and most of them sea-sick, could hardly climb the
awkward Jacob’s ladders dangling down the ship’s dark side.

At last the lighter was cleared, and the tug, lurching out of the
darkness, brought off the Gunner with another heavily laden lighter,
left him alongside, and towed the Orphan back.

It was now nearly eleven o’clock; the breeze had become a strong wind,
and meeting the current flowing out of the Dardanelles, raised an angry,
steep sea. This immensely increased the difficulties of handling the
motor-lighters, steamboats, and small tugs which simply swarmed off "W"
beach and its piers.  The clumsy motor-lighters were a danger to
themselves and a terror to others, for they often refused to answer
their helms when they left the lee of the sunken hulks and their bows
first met the seas.  It required much skilful seamanship for the
steamboats to get hold of them in the pitchy darkness and turn them in
the right way.

The Orphan found more guns waiting to be taken off, and he was about to
commence to haul them on board his lighter when an order came that they
were to be destroyed where they stood.  Some Sappers arrived, and began
fixing gun-cotton charges in them.

"They are the last of the guns to be sent off," said the officer in
charge of them.  "It does seem rough luck, doesn’t it?"

"What was it like when you left?" asked the Orphan.

"Perfectly quiet; that was an hour ago," he told him.

The Orphan had nothing to do now but wait for further orders.

There was so much wind blowing inshore, towards the trenches, that
though he strained his ears he could not hear the sound of the usual
sniping, rifle-firing—in fact he could hear nothing from the direction
of the trenches.  Every now and then a momentary flash showed out behind
the ridge on the Asiatic shore, and one of "Asiatic Annie’s" shells came
along; to-night they nearly all burst on the ridge close to Cape Helles
lighthouse, and absolutely harmlessly. Occasionally a big monitor,
half-way across the Straits, fired a 12-inch gun, and then everything
round "W" beach, and the white tents above it, were lighted up
momentarily—like the click of a camera shutter—and the Orphan would
catch a sudden glimpse of motor-lighters and picket-boats, horses and
men, on No. 3 Pier, perhaps long lines of troops coming down the road
from the ridge, or a motor-lorry or motor-ambulance coming down to the
beach. Then the blackness shut down again, except for the tiny flicker
of the oil-lamp tied to a post at one corner of the pier.

The Orphan passed this time of waiting talking to the disappointed
Gunner officer, who told him yarns of yesterday’s fierce bombardment,
and said how annoyed they had been when that battleship had wiped out
their beautiful "target" of advancing Turks. "You’ll hear, all right, if
the Turks do get into our trenches to-night, after our chaps have left
them," he said.  "They are all mined, and most of the communication
trenches too.  There will be the most infernal noise."

Then out of the darkness came Captain Macfarlane and the Sub.  The
Orphan heard the Captain say: "All right, you can try and take those
guns off.  If you can’t manage it, blow them up in the lighter."

Then he was sent round to No. 1 Pier to find out why two motor-lighters
could not get off.  He scrambled along the beach, past the end of No. 3
Pier, where a large number of gun- and limber-teams were waiting to
embark in lighters—the horses waiting much more patiently and quietly
than "humans" would have done—and then past a regiment which had just
marched in from the trenches, most of the men lying down to relieve the
weight of their heavy packs.  The Orphan guessed correctly that most of
these packs had a Turkish shell—or two—in them as "curios".

By the time he reached No. 1 Pier and found Mr. Armstrong, things were
in a bad way.  Two crowded motor-lighters lay there, lashed side by
side, bumping uneasily, and the new platform over the pontoon and those
barrels which filled the gap in it was swaying and creaking in a most
unpleasant manner, waves thudding against it every moment.

"Curse—the—lighters—curse—everything!" swore the Lieutenant, pronouncing
each syllable very deliberately, and without the faintest trace of
excitement. "The—whole—show—will—go—in—a—minute—
barrels—pontoon—and—lighters—as—well.  One—

"The Captain is sending a tug in to help," the Orphan shouted loudly—one
had to shout because of the creaking and grinding of the pontoon and
barrels, the noise of the wind and waves, and the bumping of the

Then a tug did back gingerly in, passed a tow-rope aboard the lighters,
and started to tow them out; but the rope "parted" as it took the
strain, and the two crowded motor-lighters, catching an eddy of the
strong wind and current, began drifting helplessly back again on to the
damaged pier.  In another half-minute they would have been hopelessly
crushed against it; but, in the nick of time, the engine of one of them
took it into its head to start, and just managed to move the two of them
sufficiently to give the tug a chance of getting hold of them and towing
them out to sea and safety.

"My—blooming—oath!" said Mr. Armstrong; "that—was—a—near—thing," and he
sucked hard at his pipe.

A man, coming from the "Inner Hulk" over the straining pontoon, shouted
to him: "A destroyer has just made ’fast’ inside the ’Outer Hulk’, sir."

"All—right; I’ll—send—the—troops—along. Go—along—and—fetch—’em," he told
the Orphan; "those—blokes—sitting—along—the—thundering—beach.
—move—on—if—they—don’t—want—to—be—left—behind. Con-found—this—pipe!"  As
the Orphan darted away he heard the rending sound of timber cracking and
ropes "parting".  He found some officers; they passed the "word" along;
gave orders, and No. 1 Company of that battalion rose to their feet,
picked up their rifles, and commenced to straggle down to the pier.  As
the Orphan and the first of them reached it, there came a loud crashing
of smashing woodwork, loud shouts of "She’s carried away, sir!" people
came running back from where the pontoon had been; and Mr. Armstrong,
walking slowly up to him, said: "The—thundering—thing’s—carried
—away—al-to-gether.  It’s—the—very—devil. Go—and—tell—the—N.-T.-O.
See—if—you—can—find— me—a—bit—of—wire—my—pipe’s—choked."

Back went the Orphan to No. 4 Pier, but Captain Macfarlane was not
there, nor at No. 3 Pier. Someone took him to the new office "dug-out"
at the top of the beach; and there he found him, sitting at a table with
an oil-lamp hanging above it, smoking a cigarette, tugging at his beard,
and looking quaintly amused at a number of officers who were all asking
him questions at the same time.

The Orphan wriggled his way through them, and burst out with: "The
’barrel pier’ has gone, sir—washed away!"

"How very annoying, Mr. Orpen; very annoying indeed!" he said, smiling
grimly.  "We shall have to send the soldiers off from No. 3 Pier.  Go
down and tell the pier-master to embark them on the two ’stand-by’
motor-lighters, and tell Mr. Armstrong to go down and help him."

The Orphan, noticing that the lamp was hanging by a piece of wire,
thought that there might be some more somewhere about, looked round, and
saw a piece lying under the table—just what Mr. Armstrong would like.
He picked it up, and was just wriggling his way out again when the
Captain wanted to know what he was doing.

"Mr. Armstrong’s pipe is choked, sir, and I saw this bit of wire."

"Dear me! dear me!" smiled the Captain.  "Misfortunes never come singly;
do they, Mr. Open?"

"No, sir," said the Orphan, not knowing what else to say, and dashed
off; found the Pier-master—another Naval Lieutenant—and gave his
message.  Then he went off with his piece of wire to clear Mr.
Armstrong’s pipe, and tell him to go down to No. 3 Pier.

"All—right—hold—this—thundering—megaphone— whilst—I—clean—my—pipe."

At No. 3 Pier these latest arrived troops were already marching down
into the "stand-by" motor-lighters, with a scuffling of tired feet, a
clatter of rifle-butts, and the continual, monotonous, weary sound of
"Form two deep!  Form two deep!" as more infantry neared the shore end
of the pier.

They were tired and dirty and trench-stained, and they cursed as they
stumbled against each other in the dark, but they were very cheerful.
As soon as one lighter had taken as many as she could hold, she shoved
off, and grunted and snorted across to the "Outer Hulk".

"Nip over there; jump into that steamboat," the Pier-master called out.
"Find out how many more men that destroyer can take."

The Orphan jumped down into a picket-boat lying alongside, and found
Bubbles there.

As he took him across to the destroyer, the Orphan asked him what he had
been doing all night.

"Generals, and their Staffs," Bubbles shouted happily.  "You’ve no idea
what a lot of trouble I’ve had with them.  Some of them have actually
started giving me orders.  I’ve ’told ’em off’ properly.  They get quite
tame then.  I’ve taken some off from ’V’ beach as well; everything’s
going on well down there. This sea running in is pretty beastly, isn’t

The Orphan climbed up the destroyer’s side, and found her deck crammed
with soldiers.  He pushed his way up to the fore bridge, and heard her
Captain yelling down to the men on the "Outer Hulk": "Get some more
fenders along.  Slack off that hawser."  He was told that "If you don’t
’get out of it’ in a ’brace of shakes’ you’ll get a sea-passage, for
nothing.  I’m just going to shove off out of it.  I can’t take another
soldier, and I’ll stove my side in if I stay here much longer."

The Orphan went back to the steamboat, across to the pier, and reported
that the destroyer was just shoving off.

"I can see that for myself," grumbled the Pier-master, as a flash from
the monitor’s gun suddenly showed the destroyer backing out.

This same flash also showed a heavily-laden lighter being warped off
from No. 4 Pier, so the Orphan knew that the Sub had managed to start
his journey with those last guns.

Then two teams of horses came jangling down to the pier unexpectedly,
and the irritated Pier-master sent Bubbles to try and find a horse-boat
or lighter alongside the "Inner Hulk".  He came back with one; was
nearly run down by another destroyer; got it alongside.  Those twelve
horses walked down into it as if they knew all about the business, and
the very last horse to be taken off from "W" beach was towed away into
the darkness.

Captain Macfarlane came down and told them that he had received a
telephone message from Headquarters Office that the trenches had been
finally evacuated, and the covering brigades withdrawn. "Everything IS
absolutely quiet up there," he said.

The Orphan and Bubbles were greatly excited at that news.  They tried to
picture these last troops stealthily creeping out of their long line of
trenches—extending from Ghurka Bluff and the Nullah, across the plain in
front of Krithia, along the lower slopes of Achi Baba, and across and
along the ravines past Sedd-el-Bahr—coming down the communication
trenches, treading softly, and not making a sound, expecting all the
time that Turkish patrols would give the alarm, and that the Turks would
only be waiting for that moment to light the plain with star shells and
rush down on them.

"We should hear the mines blow up, anyway," the Orphan said, as both
snotties stood and listened, hearing nothing but the howling of the wind
and the lapping of the waves, and the bumping of the picket-boat against
the pier.

"It must be exciting for them," Bubbles said, bubbling with excitement.

After having secured several empty motor-lighters alongside, in
readiness to embark the last troops, there was nothing to do.

"Have—a—sand-wich?" said Mr. Armstrong, producing a bulky package which
Richards had prepared for him.  They ate them sitting on the top of the
picket-boat’s cabin, as she bobbed and bumped against the side of the
pier.  Mr. Armstrong told them that one of the Generals coming down was
a cousin of his named Bailey, and that if he did come down to this pier
he wasn’t to go off without seeing him. General Bailey had a brother who
had been a Sub in charge of a gun-room when Mr. Armstrong was a
midshipman in it.  "A—thundering—good—chap," Mr. Armstrong said.
"He—used—to—beat—me— thundering—hard—have—an-other—sandwich."

Before the sandwiches were finished, the Orphan had to go up to the
Captain’s beach office.  The Senior Military Landing Officer, rather
upset about something, was talking nervously.

"Oh, Mr. Orpen, there are some men who can’t be taken off from Gully
Beach, round by the left flank, on account of the heavy sea," the
Captain said calmly.  "They are starting to march this way.  Go down and
tell the Pier-master and Mr. Armstrong to collect as many empty
motor-lighters as possible.  Come back here when you have given this

When he returned, the Captain gave him a signal to take up to the
temporary "wireless" station, a little way along the top of the cliff.

"You had better hurry," he said, good-humouredly, looking at his watch,
"if you really don’t mind, or they’ll be packed up before you get

The Orphan dashed off up the main road, and then along the branch path
to where he knew the "wireless" station had been "put up".

"You’re just in time," the Naval Lieutenant in charge of it said; "I was
just going to give the order to ’pack up’."

"Here!" he shouted to the operator.  "Call up those two destroyers;
they’ll be wanted to come alongside the ’Outer Hulk’."

"The N.T.O. says you can pack up when you get those signals through,
sir," the Orphan said.

"All right; those destroyers will have the deuce of a time getting
alongside if the wind goes on increasing as it’s been doing for the last
half-hour," the Lieu-tenant said.  "What d’they want ’em for? anything
gone wrong?"

The Orphan told him, and as he turned back he ran into some soldiers
carrying heavy square tins.

"What are you doing?" he asked one of them.

"Going off to soak the stores with petrol," he said, and hurried on up
to the Ordnance Depot.

Down the main road were now coming the first of the "covering
parties"—some of the men who had actually stayed in the trenches till
the last moment, many of them limping heavily, most of them talking
cheerily.  Some had maxim guns on their shoulders, others carried the
tripod-stands, others maxim belt-boxes.

"Which way for the Margate steamer?" a Cockney voice called out.

"Turn to your right when you get on the beach," the Orphan shouted as he
passed them; and the same voice called back: "Hi, Guv’nor!  I’ve lost me
return ticket.  I ain’t got no money, and I don’t want to be left
behind—I ain’t ’ankering after a trip to Constantinople."

The tired men began to laugh.

The midshipman found Captain Macfarlane in his office, and told him that
these men were coming down. He went out and stood at the top of the
beach as they went past, their feet scrunching on the stones and
shuffling through the sand as they marched down to No. 3 Pier, straight
aboard the motor-lighters waiting for them.

A little officer came past, walking with a very tall one.

"Is that General Bailey?" called Captain Macfarlane.

"Hullo, Macfarlane!  I knew your voice," he replied, stopping.

"Everything all right?" asked the Captain; and the Orphan remembered
that this was Mr. Armstrong’s cousin, and listened eagerly for what the
General, who had just gone through this terribly anxious time, had to

"A pipeful of ship’s tobacco, and I should be a happy man," was what he
actually did say.

"I know where I can get some, sir," the Orphan interrupted.  "Mr.
Armstrong has plenty down at No. 3 Pier."

"There’s a picket-boat waiting for you there, General.  Mr. Orpen will
show you the way. Everything all quiet when you left?"

"Everything.  The Turks haven’t stirred from their trenches; have hardly
fired a shot all night.  We’ve brought everyone back."

The Orphan piloted the General and his Staff Officer through the crowd
of men round No. 3 Pier, and found Mr. Armstrong.

"General Bailey, sir; he wants a pipeful of ship’s tobacco," he said,
and left them there; hearing Mr. Armstrong’s funny drawl:
"You’re—a—sort—of —cousin—of—mine—sir—your—brother—in—the—
thundering—good—chap—take—the—whole— blessed—pouchful."

"Bubbles!" the Orphan called, as he found the picket-boat, "I’ve brought
you another General."

"Put him down below in the cabin with ’Kaiser Bill’," Bubbles sang out
laughingly.  "What ’Kaiser Bill’ doesn’t know about looking after
Generals isn’t worth knowing."

The wind by now had increased to almost the force of a gale, and a most
unpleasant sea was swirling in through the gap in No. 1 Pier—where the
pontoon had been—and round and between the ends of the sunken "hulks".
In spite of this, those "covering parties" were safely taken off; the
clumsy motor-lighters pushed and shoved out past the "Outer Hulk" by
tugs and picket-boats, and then there was nothing much to do until those
men marching back from the left flank and Gully Beach arrived.  The
Orphan was sent with some of the beach party to bring down the "gear"
from the "wireless" station, and when he came back he found a
white-painted hospital motor-lighter alongside No. 3 Pier.  The Army
doctor in charge had asked to be given an opportunity of trying to save
the most valuable of the surgical stores still left in the Casualty
Clearing-stations, and now was up there with nearly a hundred R.A.M.C.
orderlies, bringing down cases of surgical instruments and expensive
apparatus as fast as they could.  They had already filled two big
ambulance wagons, and man-handled them down on to the beach, and
everyone was helping to unload them.

As a matter of fact, the last night of the evacuation had gone off so
smoothly, in spite of the unfortunate change of weather, that people
hardly realized that the original scheme had been drafted under the
impression that the "covering parties" would probably have to fight
their way back.  The maxims in the picket-boats had been placed in them
so that the picket-boats should try and cover the embarkation of those
last few people who would rush down to the beach; the white-painted
hospital lighter was there to, if possible, take off any wounded who
could crawl or hobble to it.

In the complete absence of any interference by the Turks this fact had
been almost forgotten.

The Sapper working-parties, who had been sprinkling petrol over the
Ordnance and Commissariat stores, now began to return, and set to work
with pick-axes to smash the engines of some motor-lorries which had to
be left behind, and rip their tyres to shreds.

The Orphan having nothing whatever to do, and feeling very tired,
wandered down to No. 3 Pier and found Bubbles and his picket-boat.

"I say, Bubbles, got anything to eat?"

Bubbles had.  He produced a packet of sandwiches out of a haversack, and
the crew brought the two of them a bowl of hot cocoa.  They sat on the
top of the picket-boat’s cabin, and whilst they were munching away
happily, they heard someone singing out: "’Ave you seen Mr. Orpen

It was Plunky Bill’s voice.

"Hello!  What d’you want?" the Orphan called; "I’m here."

Plunky Bill came aboard.  "Beg pardon, sir; I thought as ’ow you and
t’other young gen’l’man could do with a couple of army macintoshes.
I’ve just ’appened to come across two;" and he added confidentially: "If
you’d like any more, I knows where I might be able to lay me ’ands on

"Where did you get them?" they asked; but Plunky Bill only told them
that "he’d been looking round a bit".  "I’ll just stick ’em alongside
’Kaiser Bill’, and then they’ll be safe.  You’ll find a couple of them
there ’lectric torches in the pockets."

"Whatever else have you got?" Bubbles laughed, seeing that he was bulged
out with things.

"Nothin’ much, sir; nothin’ but a few pairs of them injy-rubber trench
boots, sir.  It do seem such a shame to leave ’em for the Turks, and
they’ll come in ’andy on board."

He put these boots down below under the forepeak, and went away again,
towards the beach.

"That makes up for the macintosh spoilt by that shell the other day,"
Bubbles said.  "They’re jolly good things; you can wear them in plain

They did think of calling him back and asking, him to bring down some
more for the rest of the gun-room, but a picket-boat came lurching
alongside with the Sub in it, and in their eagerness to know whether he
had managed to get off the last of those guns they forgot about

"They’re half-way to Mudros by this time," the Sub shouted happily.
"I’m off to tell the Skipper. What’s the delay?  What are we waiting

They told him of the men from the left flank, and away he went.

At about three o’clock the first destroyer came alongside the "Outer
Hulk" and made fast.  This would have been a difficult job in daylight,
on account of the heavy sea which was running, the strong wind, a very
strong current swirling down from the Dardanelles, the very limited
space for manoeuvring, and the dangerous proximity of the lee shore.  In
the pitchy darkness of the night it was ten times as difficult.

Thank goodness, just about this time, the first of those men began to
tramp down the road from the ridge, footsore and weary after their long
and anxious march—long march, that is, for men who had spent so many
weeks continually in trenches.  The Orphan helped to guide them down to
No. 3 Pier, and they limped into the waiting motor-lighters, and were
taken across to the destroyer.

By a quarter to four, not a single soldier remained on the Gallipoli
Peninsula except a Sapper "demolition" party busy setting fire to the
petrol-soaked stores, and waiting to ignite the fuses which should blow
up the magazines containing all the ammunition and explosives which had
to be abandoned.

By four o’clock these Sappers had come back to the beach and embarked
aboard a motor-lighter.  The whole circle of the ridge above "W" beach
and the slopes of the gully now began to flicker with little flames, and
in an incredibly short time the strong wind fanned them until the whole
place was a mass of roaring, crackling fire.

Captain Macfarlane, the few of his officers who had not yet gone off,
and a few of his men, now collected at the end of No. 3 Pier, alongside
which lay two steamboats and that white-painted motor-lighter laden with
medical and surgical stores, a few injured men (including two soldiers
with sprained ankles—actually the two last men to come down to "W"
beach), and some R.A.M.C. orderlies.  Bubbles, with his last load of
military officers, with "Kaiser Bill" and the two macintoshes, had
already gone out to sea, and was steaming across to Kephalo.

Those flames lighted up the whole of "W" beach in the most extraordinary
manner, and everything all round was visible—the little group on the
pier, the stones on the beach, a white-tilted ambulance wagon with its
Red Cross, half-way down the beach, the broad road running up between
the huge masses of flame, the white hospital tents, an abandoned
motor-lorry with its engines destroyed and its tyres hacked to pieces,
the white stones which marked the boundary of the Naval Camp, and even
the two "cuttings" which led to the Naval Mess "dug-out".  Out by the
"hulks" some of those last soldiers could be seen still scrambling
aboard the destroyer.

Captain Macfarlane gave the order for the hospital-lighter to shove off,
and for everyone to embark, so the Sub, the Orphan, Mr. Armstrong, and
many more crowded into one of those steamboats and started away.  The
time was now about ten minutes past four, and before they had gone a
hundred yards the magazine on shore blew up.  It contained all the
explosives which it had not been possible to take off, and made the most
earth-rending, stupendous noise, sending up a huge mass of flame like a
volcano, and flaming masses flew gyrating and twisting like huge
gigantic Chinese crackers high up into the sky and spreading far and
wide in every direction.

"My—blooming—oath—what—price—that—for—fireworks!" drawled Mr. Armstrong.

"Keep down!  Keep down!" people shouted, as masses of rock came
splashing into the water all round the steamboat, but none hit her; and
as she turned round the end of the "Outer Hulk", on the inner side of
which the destroyer and several motor-lighters still lay, crowded with
troops, and faced the sea, the Orphan saw the other steamboat following,
with Captain Macfarlane and the rest of his officers and men, and the
white hospital lighter struggling out, with the water splashing up all
round her, just as though she were under a heavy fire.  A tremendous
crackle of musketry broke out from the beach, and for a moment the
Orphan thought that the Turks had come down to the ridge at last; but a
Sapper officer in the boat told him that this was only the abandoned
small-arm ammunition exploding.

Captain Macfarlane, passing them in his steamboat, sent them back to
assist the hospital lighter if necessary; but she managed to make her
way out safely, so in a few minutes they followed him.

Another destroyer waited for them outside; they saw her, steamed
alongside, and climbed aboard with some difficulty owing to the heavy
sea.  The huge blaze on shore lighted up every face, and the first
person the Orphan recognized was Dr. Gordon, the Volunteer Surgeon of
the _Achates_.

"We’ve just had some pieces of rock fall on board," he said, "but no one
is hurt.  How about you?  They were falling all round your boat."

"What are you doing here, sir?" the Orphan asked.

"They’ve sent a doctor to every destroyer to-night. Thank God, everyone
has got off safely!  You go and lie down; you look absolutely ’played

"We got off all the men and the last guns—the very last they intended to
take off," the Orphan said. "Isn’t that grand?"  But he would not go and
lie down. He stood watching the flames and the destroyer silhouetted
against them, as she backed out to let another take her place and empty
the remaining motor-lighters. The motor-lighters came out and headed
into the heavy sea; the destroyer backed out and went ahead into safety,
and the last that the Orphan saw was a solitary little picket-boat
pushing her way in towards No. 3 Pier and the flames, to make a final
search for anyone left there, and then coming out again.

It was now about a quarter to five in the morning, and the marvellous
evacuation had been successfully completed.

Then the Orphan staggered aft, crawled below, almost fell on to one of
the leather cushions down in the ward-room, and went fast asleep.

Dr. Gordon, coming down a few minutes later, found him there, and felt
his clothes.  They were wet through, so he pulled a couple of blankets
off a bunk and covered him up.

By this time there were very few of the beach party or its officers who
had not found somewhere to stretch themselves and go to sleep.  The
strain of those last ten days and nights had been very great—fourteen
hours of hard work day and night for most of them; for some a great deal
more—and even the Sub, strong as he was, could not have "stood" many
more such days and nights without a rest.

But the destroyer they were aboard had not finished her job.  She and a
cruiser now had to shepherd every tug, motor-lighter, trawler, and
steamboat safely on its way across to Kephalo—especially those
troublesome motor-lighters, which behaved so badly in a heavy sea.  She
went up the Straits, past "V" beach, where the fires blazing there
showed up the castle walls of Sedd-el-Bahr and the poor old _River
Clyde_; steamed up as far as Morto Bay to see that no craft of any kind
had been left behind; and it was not until nearly seven o’clock, and
after the Turks had been shelling the beaches for nearly two hours, both
from Achi Baba and the Asiatic shore, that she started away for Kephalo.
By eight o’clock she ran into that crowded harbour.

The _Achates_ had left for Mudros several days previously, and thither
Dr. Gordon, the Sub, Bubbles, the Orphan, and "Kaiser Bill" followed her
late that afternoon in the troop-carrier _Ermine_.  As this plucky
little steamer passed Cape Tekke and Cape Helles the fires still raged,
and a cruiser, a monitor, and two destroyers were bombarding the shore.

When the Orphan looked his last at Gallipoli Peninsula, as the _Ermine_
steamed away to the west, the cliffs of Cape Tekke glowed in the rays of
the setting sun, with a great pall of black smoke above them, the masts
of the sunken hulks at their feet, our own shells were bursting on the
beaches, and a huge splash leapt up under the stern of the cruiser as a
shell from "Asiatic Annie" fell into the sea close to her.

By nine o’clock, after a wet and "bumpy" passage through the head sea
left by last night’s gale, the Sub, Bubbles, and the Orphan found
themselves once more in the Honourable Mess, where everybody asked
hundreds of questions at the same time, and where Barnes soon had a
glorious "feed" waiting for them. Fletcher, the stoker, had come aft
directly they reached the ship, to find out whether they had brought the
tortoise back safely.

"It was all due to him," the Orphan told Fletcher joyfully.  "You said
he would bring good luck, and he has."

"Kaiser Bill", however, did not show the slightest interest in getting
back to the ship or his owner, and refused even to put out his head.

"His nerves are a bit out of order, I expect," Uncle Podger suggested.

"You should have seen him ’duck’ when he heard the shells burst!" the
Orphan laughed.  "You’re a bigger funk than I am; aren’t you, old
’Kaiser Bill’?"

                             *CHAPTER XXV*

                    *The "Achates" Returns to Malta*

At nine o’clock on Sunday morning, the 9th January, a general "wireless"
signal was made by the Naval Commander-in-Chief—"Helles evacuated
successfully"; and every battleship, scout, sloop, and destroyer
scattered widely over the Eastern Mediterranean received the welcome
news at the same moment.

The greatest enthusiasm prevailed among the whole fleet, for everyone
realized that though the evacuation was actually a retreat, yet it had
been a wonderful achievement in the face of difficulties which had at
one time seemed insuperable; moreover, it set free a large and seasoned
army for employment elsewhere.

When, later on in the day, the officers and men who had taken part in
the evacuation returned to their own ships at Mudros with yarns of last
night’s adventures, everyone marvelled how it had been possible to
hoodwink the wily Turk a second time so completely, and to do so in the
teeth of that south-west gale.

In the gun-room of the _Achates_ that night, the Sub, Bubbles, and the
Orphan tried to answer questions and eat at the same time.

"It was that south-west wind that sprang up," the Lamp-post said.
"Directly it started blowing, the Turks thought to themselves, ’Well,
they won’t try to slip away to-night, at any rate’, got out their
hubble-bubble pipes, and began playing ’patience’."

"You must have been there, old Lampy," Uncle Podger laughed.  "Was it
pretty to watch?  What kind of patience did they play?"

"You know what I mean," the Lamp-post said. "Don’t try to be funny."

"I believe he’s right," the Sub said, with his mouth full.  "My jumping
Jimmies, didn’t we have luck?"

The China Doll sat listening, with his eyes opening and shutting, and
his mouth wide open, fearfully excited, especially when the Orphan, in
the interval of "Another helping, please, Barnes!" told them all about
the shells coming into the "dug-outs", and the third one which just
missed Bubbles outside the kitchen door.

In the middle of all this, the Pimple rushed in, shouting: "We’re off to
Malta!  Off to Malta to refit!  The signal has just come through!  As
soon as ever we get back all our men, off we go!  You can’t say I don’t
bring you news, can you?"

In a moment the evacuation, and the bursting shells, and all the
thrilling adventures—even the two macintoshes and electric torches
looted by Plunky Bill—had been entirely forgotten.  They all yelled with
joy, and wondered how long the _Achates_ would remain at Malta, where
she would go afterwards, and what ships would be there for them to
challenge at cricket or hockey.

"You’ll have to give me that dinner there, Rawlins, old chap," grinned
the Lamp-post, referring to the "race" in their "water-beetles".

"Ra-ther!" said Rawlins.  "We’ll have a regular slap-up
’eat-till-you-burst’ show at the Club, won’t we?"

Dr. Gordon put his head into the gun-room to see whether Bubbles and the
Orphan had finished "feeding" and were ready to come for’ard to the
sick-bay and have their slight wounds properly dressed.  But no one
could worry about little things like that—now.

"Come in, sir!  Come in!" they shouted.  "Isn’t it grand about Malta?
Where do you think we’ll go afterwards?"

"I don’t know; I haven’t the faintest idea," Dr. Gordon answered in his
nervous way.

"Hadn’t we better have a bath first, sir?" the two wounded warriors
asked him.  "We want one frightfully badly."

"All right," Dr. Gordon smiled.  "I’ll get the bandages and things into
my cabin.  Come along there, afterwards."

They had their baths, they had their scratches dressed; and then it was
simply no use to try—they could not keep awake any longer, and they
turned into their hammocks—on the half-deck—and slept like logs; though
not before the Pimple, shaking Bubbles, told him that he must keep the
forenoon watch next day.  "I’ve been keeping double watches ever since
you went skylarking over at Helles," he complained.

"Oh, bother you!" Bubbles groaned, and went to sleep.

Next morning, as Bubbles kept his "forenoon", the Orphan came to talk to
him.  He had a great idea of doing something for "Kaiser Bill", "so that
he should always remember how he’d brought luck wherever he went, and
all the righting and things he’d been through".  They had a very long
and secret conversation, and then the Orphan, saying: "I’m certain I can
get it made on board—there’s a stoker petty officer who says he can do
it—I’ll go and see him now," went away again.

Three days later, just before sunset, the _Achates_ steamed out through
the "gate" in the double row of submarine nets, left Mudros for the last
time, and commenced to zigzag her way to Malta.

In the ward-room that night the Sub dined with Mr. Meredith, and the
Orphan dined with the War Baby, sitting next to Dr. O’Neill, the
Fleet-Surgeon, who was so delighted at getting away from the Dardanelles
that he actually made himself quite agreeable.

"Not so much of the ’rats-in-a-trap’ now, Doc," the cheery
Fleet-Paymaster called across the table. "More of the
’bird-in-a-gilded-cage’, eh?  Don’t cheer up too soon; we shall be right
in the thick of the submarines to-night and to-morrow.  You’d better
blow up your safety waistcoat."

"That’s all right, Pay.  It’s hanging up in my cabin, blown up tight."

"Good!  I’ll know where to steal it," grinned the Fleet-Paymaster.

After dinner the other gun-room officers were invited to come along and
start a "sing-song".  They came in, and the Lamp-post, itching to get at
the piano, was stuck down in front of it and told to play.

As his fingers drew music from the battered, uncared-for old instrument,
he lost himself in another world altogether.  He didn’t hear the
Navigator asking why the China Doll had not come; or the Pimple and
Rawlins say: "Oh, we forgot him; we left him in the gun-room"; nor
notice them rush away with the Orphan, Bubbles, and the War Baby, and
bring back the Assistant Clerk lashed in a bamboo stretcher, with a big
cardboard label—pointing the wrong way—"This side up.  Fragile—with

They rushed him through the ward-room door, his squeals drowned by their
shouts and the Lamp-posts music, and stood him upside down on his head,
against the table.

"He’s frightfully fragile!  Listen how he cracks if you touch him!"  And
the Pimple nipped his ankle, the poor China Doll giving a squeak of

"That’s hardly comfortable, is it?" Dr. Gordon suggested.

"Well, look at the label, sir.  ’This side up’, so it must be right,"
they laughed.  But Dr. Gordon made them unbuckle the stretcher and take
it away, whilst the China Doll was "stood up" the right way, blinking
his eyes, and opening and shutting his mouth.  "Look at his lovely pink
socks!" they cried, pulling up his trouser legs.  "Aren’t they pretty?"
But the Assistant Clerk, with a frightened look at the Sub, who had
forbidden him to wear them in uniform, tried to hide them.

The Lamp-post stopped playing and "came to earth" again.

"It’s simply marvellous how you do it, old Lampy," said Uncle Podger,
who had listened to every note. "That right hand of yours gave those
black notes the time of their life; your left hand simply wasn’t in
it—never had a look in.  You ought to give it a good start next time."

"Don’t be an ass!" the Lamp-post smiled.

Then Mr. Meredith had to sing, and everyone joined in the chorus.  After
that the China Doll, pretending to be very shy, was pulled forward, and
bleated some song like "Put me among the Girls", and received such an
ovation for his silly performance, and became so highly delighted with
himself and his popularity, that he thought he’d brave the Sub’s
displeasure, and not creep away and change those pink socks as he had
intended to do.

The Commander went off to bed very soon; but just as the last chorus of
"The Midshipmite" came to a tremendous end, the door opened, and in came
Captain Macfarlane, smoking a cigar.

Everyone stood up.

"Have a whisky and soda, sir?" the Fleet-Paymaster and Navigator asked
him.  "We’re having a sing-song."

"I thought I heard a slight noise," smiled the Captain tugging at his
pointed, yellow beard.  "May I ask what _you_ are doing, Mr. Chaplain?"
The little Padre happened to be taking lessons from the Sub as to how
best to crawl through the back of one of the ward-room chairs, and had
just got himself firmly wedged in, unable to move the chair up or down.

"I can _nearly_ do it, sir," he said, standing up with the back of the
chair round his chest, and his usually pale face almost purple.

"Nearly do it, Mr. Chaplain! nearly do it!  How long have you been in
the Service?  I’ll show you how to do it properly;" and throwing off his
mess-jacket, and placing his cigar in safety, Captain Macfarlane
wriggled his head and shoulders through the back of another chair, and
slipped it down to his feet in half a minute.

"It’s very easily done, Mr. Chaplain," he said, just a little out of
breath, as he resumed his cigar.

"It’s all very well for you, sir.  You are thin all the way down—the
Padre’s only thin ’up topsides’." the Navigator laughed.

The Captain sang a song, and joined in the choruses of others till the
time came for his usual visit to the bridge.  Then he put on his
mess-jacket and wished them all "good night".

"Good night, sir!" everyone said, standing up as he went away.

After this the sing-song became a little more boisterous, until finally
the climax came when the Fleet-Paymaster, bursting in with a cushion he
had borrowed from the Padre’s cabin, endeavoured to score a "try"
between the legs of the piano.  He was forced into touch, banged against
the ship’s side, the cushion seized, and a most delightful game of Rugby
football followed.

Dr. Gordon had a little work to do—mending people—afterwards, whilst the
sing-song gradually broke up, the clamour subsided, and one after the
other all went away to turn in, and peace and quietness reigned once

On the way back to the gun-room the Sub asked Uncle Podger to come into
his cabin.

"Look here, Uncle, that youngster of yours took advantage of my dining
in the ward-room to-night to wear those pink socks.  I don’t care a
tinker’s curse if he wears all the colours of the rainbow _out_ of
uniform, but I had told him not to do so _in_ uniform. It’s just this:
the snotties—all of us—are spoiling him, treating him like a plaything
or a little girl.  He can’t even talk sensibly now, or make an ordinary
remark without saying something silly to try and make us laugh at him.
He wore those socks to-night to make the snotties laugh at him and "rag"
him; and that silly song he sang, and that silly blinking of his eyes
when the ward-room officers clapped him—well, it’s got to be stopped.
What a horrible time he will have, when he goes to another ship and
tries his baby tricks there! and what will he be like when he grows up?
He’s a good little chap, really, and as plucky as paint at sports.  We
_must_ do something."

"I don’t know," Uncle Podger reflected.  "I feel just as you do.  He’s
being absolutely spoiled.  He’s absolutely useless in the office; I do
believe he spends his time thinking of what he can do next to make them
laugh at him.  They were talking at dinner to-night of getting up a
gun-room court martial and trying him one night before we get to Malta.
The snotties knew you had ordered him not to wear those socks, and
thought of trying him for that.  The China Doll thinks he’s going to
have the time of his life."

"Right," said the Sub, "and I’ll take ’President’; he _shall_ have the
time of his life."

"You won’t be too hard on him?" Uncle Podger asked, a little anxiously.

"Right-o, old chap!  Good night!  I won’t break him."

By the next morning the _Achates_ had passed through the narrow Doro
channel, where so many ships had been attacked by submarines, and
zigzagged her way along the coast of Greece.  In the gun-room, great
preparations were made for the China Doll’s court martial, which would
be really done "top-hole" fashion now that the Sub had offered to be
"President".  All details were settled that afternoon. The Orphan must
be "Prisoner’s Friend", and Uncle Podger "Judge-Advocate".  The War Baby
had been asked to dine as the guest of the Honourable Mess, and
afterwards to act as "Provost-Marshal", "Master-at-Arms", "Second
Executioner", and "Prisoner’s Escort".  The Pimple appointed himself
"First Executioner", and Rawlins and the Hun appointed themselves "Comic
Jailers".  But the Hun, who had not been well for some days, had again
to be put on the sick-list and be slung in a cot on the half-deck, so
that Bubbles took his place as "Second Jailer".  The Lamp-post, of
course, would be the "Prosecutor", and make up a really funny speech.

Before dinner they shifted the Hun in his cot, and slung him just
outside the gun-room door so that he could look in and see the fun.
"You’ll have to be the ’crowd’," they told him, "and groan and hoot when
the ’Prisoner’ is dragged in or out—that is, if you feel well enough,
old Hun."

They had a grand, cheery dinner, the most cheery and noisy since the
ship had left Ieros; they entirely forgot Cape Helles or Suvla, the
shells or the submarines.  The China Doll simply giggled with excitement
all the time.  He longed for the trial to begin, and for himself to be
the central figure and be able to "answer back" so cheekily.

When the meal was at last finished and everything cleared away, he
helped to carry in the Master-at-Arms’ table, and stood it across the
top of the Mess, in front of the sideboard, for the Sub to sit behind as
"Judge" and "President"; he helped bring in the Padre’s reading-desk to
make the witness-box, and he cleared all the litter of coats and boots
from the brass "beading", or fender, which surrounded the place where
the stove had stood in the old days.  This was to be the Bar, and he
would have to stand in the middle of it, facing the witness-box, with a
"Jailer" on each side of him, and the War Baby, with his very long
sword, behind him.

He himself had no sword, and would not be entitled to one until he
reached the exalted rank of Clerk, so he was ordered to provide himself
with a pen from the ship’s office to take its place.

Directly after "Commander’s rounds" at nine o’clock, the "Court" was
"cleared", and the China Doll, trembling with excitement, was sent to
stand by his sea-chest until the "Jailers" and the "Master-at-Arms" came
for him.

Punctually at ten past nine the War Baby, in helmet, tunic, and those
beautiful scarlet-striped trousers of his, his long sword at the
"carry", did the "goose step" solemnly along the half-deck, followed by
Bubbles and Rawlins, their helmets on, the wrong way round, their
monkey-jackets stuffed out with swimming-belts to make them look more
"funny", and their drawn dirks in their hands.  They dragged behind them
the chain from one of the hatchway ladders, and having snapped a pair of
handcuffs round the China Doll’s wrists, lashed his arms to his side
with the chain.

Then they escorted him solemnly back to the gun-room, amidst derisive
shouts of "Go it, pickpocket! Wearer of Pink Socks!  Booh!  Pooh!
Booh!" from the "crowd"—the Hun in his cot outside the gun-room door.

Behind the little table sat the Sub, smoking his pipe—that office pen,
which represented the "Prisoner’s" sword, and the gun-room cane in front
of him.  On his left, at the end of the little table, sat Uncle Podger
with his "cocked" hat on, his sword between his knees, and a roll of
papers in his hands.  In front and on the right of the "Judge" was the
stove fender for the "Prisoner at the Bar", and in front and on the
left, the Padre’s reading-desk, laden with a pile of volumes of
Chambers’s _Encyclopædia_, borrowed from the ward-room.  The Lamp-post,
as "Prosecutor", leant "gracefully" against it.

Behind the "Judge" stood the Pimple—a black mask hiding most of his
face—brandishing a huge meat-chopper, kindly lent by the marine butcher.

The Orphan had vanished.

The China Doll was now marched to the Bar.

"Attention!  Silence in Court!" shouted the War Baby in a shrill
falsetto; and the two "Jailers", standing on each side of the China
Doll, repeated it after him, trying to make funny faces, and jerking the
ends of the chain coiled round the "Prisoner’s" chest, whilst that
luckless youth opened and shut his eyes, and kept saying: "Shut up!
you’re hurting!"

Silence, or comparative silence, having been obtained, Uncle Podger
gravely read, from a long roll of paper, the horrible charge: "Whereas,
Mr. Charles Stokes, commonly known as the China Doll, did, after being
duly warned and cautioned not to wear pink socks"—(loud "booing" from
the "crowd", and a request from the "crowd" for his cot to be shifted a
little farther for’ard, so that he could see better).

After this interruption, and the Court had settled down again, the
"Judge-Advocate" resumed: "pink socks, not in accordance with the
Uniform Regulations of His Majesty’s Navy, and also infringing the
customs of the Honourable Mess, and being distasteful to the Honourable
Members thereof, and did indulge this noxious habit on sundry and divers
occasions, to wit, notably at dinner on the thirteenth day of the first
month of the year nineteen hundred and sixteen; therefore, the aforesaid
Mr. Charles Stokes be now brought before a Court Martial, duly
assembled, and his crime diligently, and with all due formality,
examined into, and death or other such punishment as be deemed
necessary, awarded."

"Prisoner at the Bar," the "Judge-Advocate" began sternly—("Tremble,
China Doll," Rawlins implored in a whisper.  "Shake the chain and the
handcuffs.")—"having heard the grave charge, do you plead guilty or not

"Guilty, my Lord," squeaked the "Prisoner", knowing that this was just
what no one would want him to say.

"The ’Prisoner at the Bar’ pleads ’Not guilty’—not guilty, my Lord!’"
shrieked the "Provost-Marshal", "Master-at-Arms", "Second Executioner",
and "Prisoner’s Escort", all rolled in one, waving his long sword; the
two comic "Jailers" joined in to drown the "Prisoner’s" voice.

There was now heard, from the deck outside, shouts of "Justice!
Justice!" and a rather mild "booing" from the "crowd"; in rushed the
Orphan and struck an attitude.  "Am I too late to save my young friend’s
life?" he cried tragically, holding one hand against the front of his
monkey-jacket, beneath which something bulged out.  "The prisoner pleads
’Not guilty, my Lord!’ and I am here to prove his innocence. Fleeing
from the Dardanelles, flying from the post of danger, I—I—I——  Oh, hang
it all; I can’t remember any more!"

So down the Orphan sat, amidst groans from the "Jailers", the "First and
Second Executioners", and the "crowd" outside.

"The ’Prisoner at the Bar’ having pleaded ’Not guilty, my Lord!’"
continued the "Judge-Advocate", "I will now request my honourable
friend, ’Mr. Prosecutor’, to proceed."

So the Lamp-post, having cleared his throat several times, and fixed the
"Prisoner" with an "eagle glance", before which the China Doll’s knees
shook in the most realistic manner, proceeded: "My Lord, in my
researches among my legal books" (here he rested his hand on the
Encyclopædia) "I find but little mention of socks, and none of pink
socks, which is sufficient proof that the crime, of which the ’Prisoner
at the Bar’ is charged, is one of a unique and most dangerous character.
But" (and he banged the reading-desk) "in the article on ’Dyes’ I find
this: ’Pink dye is produced from coal-tar’"—(great sensation in Court;
Bubbles pretended to faint against the bulkhead; the Pimple waved the
meat-chopper so close to the "Judge’s" head that he was told to put it
down in the corner; and there was prolonged hissing from the "crowd").

Then the "Prosecutor", lightly touching on coal-tar soap, tarred
roads—their advantage to motors and disadvantage to the fish in the
streams which ran alongside them, briefly mentioned the good old custom
of "tar and feathering", which he trusted the Court would inflict on the
wretched "Prisoner at the Bar". "These," he said, suddenly holding aloft
the two incriminating socks, "are the abominated vestments or
’what-nots’ owned and worn by that trembling, terrified tadpole, that
cringing criminal in the dock. I will now, my Lord, proceed to call my

"You’re doing it spiffingly!" whispered Rawlins to the China Doll.  "If
you could only wink up a tear, and shake the chains a bit more!"

One by one, Uncle Podger, the "Jailers", and Barnes (in his
shirt-sleeves) were called to the reading-desk, sworn on the office copy
of the King’s Regulations and Admiralty Instructions, and each
identified those socks as having been worn by the "Prisoner" on the
occasion in question.  The War Baby further gave evidence that he had
found them that night concealed in the "Prisoner’s" chest.

The Orphan, with some hazy idea of judicial procedure, tried
unsuccessfully to obtain a hearing.  At last he was heard to say: "That
the ’Prisoner at the Bar’ denied ever having seen them before; that
having been brought up from the tenderest age on ’Pink Pills for Pale
Piccaninnies’, he so abominated that colour that he invariably fainted
on seeing it".  Here, with his free hand (for the other hand still
clasped the bulge beneath his monkey-jacket), he seized the pink socks
from the "Prosecutor" and held them in front of the "Prisoner’s" face.


The China Doll promptly fell back into the arms of the "Jailers" and

"See, my Lord!" and the Orphan pointed triumphantly (as Rawlins
whispered, "Keep on fainting—I’ll tell you when to stop"); "can the
Court require further proof of his innocence?"

("Yes!  Yes!  Booh!  Booh!  Yah!" from the "crowd" and the Pimple.)

"Then I will produce the real criminal, the owner of those hateful
socks;" and putting his hand inside his monkey-jacket, the Orphan drew
out "Kaiser Bill", with his head out and legs dangling from his shell.

"There he is!  Come to save the innocent life of that young officer—at
the risk of his own shell!"  (Tremendous sensation in Court; the
"Jailers" flung their arms round each other and wept loudly—even the
"Judge" smiled as he refilled his pipe.)

"I will now confront him with those socks, and the Court will see him
recognize them," went on the Orphan, and dangled a sock in front of
"Kaiser Bill". Unfortunately, just at that moment the Pimple dropped the
meat-chopper, and "Kaiser Bill", thinking, probably, that "Asiatic
Annie" was getting busy again, promptly "ducked" inside his shell, and
nothing would induce him to come out again.

The Lamp-post banged the reading-desk.  "My Lord, you have seen for
yourself that the Witness for the Defence refuses to perjure himself:
the case is clear; I submit that the charge is proved."

In the general clamour and booing which followed, the China Doll
endeavoured to make himself heard; but every time he opened his mouth,
Rawlins or Bubbles slapped a wet sponge (thoughtfully provided by the
Pimple) over his mouth, and the War Baby sawed gently at his neck with
his sword.

Amid the general uproar, the Orphan was understood to be pleading for
the clemency of the Court. "The ’Prisoner at the Bar’," he was heard to
say, "resolved, at a tender age, to devote his life to his King and
Country, and, leaving several disconsolate, doting wives and children to
mourn his loss, had come to sea to make toast for the Honourable Mess."

"But he doesn’t make it now; he never did!  He always ate it himself!"
yelled the "Jailers", the "First Executioner", and the "crowd".

"I look to the justice of the Court to acquit the miserable little
worm—I mean, this gallant and impetuous officer—of the foul charge
which—which—which——  Oh, hang it all!  I’ve forgotten what comes next,"
the Orphan said, and, amidst "loud and prolonged cheering" from the Hun
in his cot outside, sat down on the gun-room table with "Kaiser Bill" on
his knees.

The Sub banged the table.  "Has the ’Prisoner at the Bar’ anything to
say in his defence?"

The China Doll, thinking that at last the time had come for him to make
the funny remarks he expected everyone to laugh at, began, in his most
squeaky voice, his eyes opening and shutting: "My Lord, old Lampy is——"

"The Prosecutor! the Prosecutor!" they all shouted, whilst the "Jailers"
clapped the sponge over his mouth.

"Is an ass!" shrieked the China Doll, struggling free.

"Muzzle the ’Prisoner’!  Shove the sponge in his mouth!  Cut his head
off!" shouted the "Jailers", the "Provost-Marshal", the "First
Executioner", and the "crowd".

The Sub banged the table for silence, and roared: "’Provost-Marshal’,
remove the ’Prisoner’, and send back the ’Jailers’!"  Whereupon the
China Doll was lifted up, kicking and squeaking, and taken out into the
half-deck, the War Baby keeping guard whilst the two "Comic Jailers"
came back.

"Now look here," began the Sub, "we’ve had too much of this fooling of
the Assistant Clerk.  He’s not a bad little chap, and we’re simply
spoiling him.  He thinks of nothing but how he can make us laugh at him.
When he goes to another ship he’ll have a rotten time, and grow up to be
a ’rotter’.  He wore those pink socks after I had told him not to do so,
and to make you laugh at him all the more.  Now all this ’rot’ has to
stop—from this very moment.  He is not to be called China Doll any
longer—the name will stick to him, and sooner or later spoil him.
Stokes is his name, and Stokes—and nothing else—nothing else, do you
understand?—you will call him in future. You can ’scrap’ with him as
much as you like, but you are to talk sensibly to him—and you are never
again to call him China Doll.  Go and fetch the ’Prisoner’."

The snotties never expected any ending like this, and, rather
bewildered, brought back the excited Mr. Stokes.

"Take off those handcuffs and foolhardy chains," the Sub called out,
"and bring Mr. Stokes over here."

The Assistant Clerk stood opposite the Sub, wondering why the others
didn’t giggle at the abject look of silly fright he tried to show.

"Stand up when I speak to you!" growled the Sub, and the Assistant Clerk
straightened himself and looked frightened—naturally; he didn’t know
what was the matter.

"I have taken ’President of the Court’ to-night, Mr. Stokes," the Sub
began sternly, "and let you have your fun out of it, but I am going to
say a few things to you which you are to remember.  If you intend to
become a credit to yourself and the Navy you must learn to obey
orders—that is the first thing.  Then you must learn to be manly, which
you are not trying to do here.  If you hadn’t been just a silly, little
puppy I should have beaten you; but from now on, you are to be called by
your proper name—Stokes—and by nothing else—and—and—dash it all—come
with me to my cabin and talk it over."

Ten minutes later they both came back, the Assistant Clerk looking as if
he had shed tears.

The Sub put his hand on his shoulder.  "Have a drink, Stokes?" and Mr.
Stokes looking up, with a suspicion of a tremble on his lips, said:
"Thank you, sir, I should like a ginger beer."

"Barnes!" called the Sub; "bring me a whisky and soda, and a ginger beer
for Mr. Stokes."

The others kept very quiet.

The evening after that court martial had taken place, and just before
dinner, Bubbles and the Orphan, vastly excited, knocked at the door of
the Sub’s cabin.

"We’ve had this made for ’Kaiser Bill’," they both began saying,
bursting in.  "Could we get Fletcher and the tortoise down to the
gun-room after dinner, and present it to him—properly?" and they pulled
out a brass cross, shaped like a German "Iron Cross", suspended on a
piece of coloured ribbon with a proper brooch and four "clasps".

The Sub examined it, smiling as he read on one side of the cross "Kaiser
Bill—the Tortoise", on the other "Good Luck"; and on the clasps:
"_Achates_, 1915-16"—"Smyrna"—"’W’ beach"—and on the fourth—a very broad
one: "Evacuation, Suvla—Helles".

"We got it made on board," they said.  "Haven’t they done it well?"

"Where did you get the ribbon?" he asked.

"Off the War Baby’s straw hat.  He’ll never want it.  Can we tell
Fletcher to come down after dinner, and will you give ’Kaiser Bill’ the
medal?  It would be best to come from you."

"All right; tell him to come to the gun-room after ’rounds’."

So off they rushed.

Just after nine o’clock old Fletcher came aft with the tortoise.  They
all met him outside, escorted him into the gun-room, and made him sit
down in the one easy-chair, with the tortoise on his knees.

Then the Sub said: "We’ve had a medal made for ’Kaiser Bill’, Fletcher;
we thought you’d like to have it, just to remember what he had been
through, and remind you about it later on."

The old stoker took the medal and its clasps, pulled his gold spectacles
out of their case from inside his "jumper", fixed them on his nose, and
beamed when he read the inscriptions.  "Thank you very much, gentlemen!
Thank you all, very much!  I’ll take it home with me, and I hope I’ll
take ’Kaiser Bill’ home too.  He did bring luck, didn’t he?  If we’d
only had him with us, that last time in the picket-boat, we shouldn’t
have lost her.  Should we, sir?"

Then Stokes, very nervous because this was his first public appearance
under his real name, stuttered: "And, Fletcher, the Sub wants me to give
you this box of cigars; he thinks ’Kaiser Bill’ likes the smell of cigar

"It’s very kind of you all; thank you very much, gentlemen;" and the old
stoker, beaming at them through his gold spectacles, added, artlessly:
"If ’Kaiser Bill’ doesn’t enjoy the smell of them, I know someone who
does.  Thank you all, very much indeed!"

Next morning, just after daybreak, every one of the midshipmen (except
the Hun in his cot) came on deck to see the old walls of Malta standing
up out of the glittering sea, ahead of the ship.

As they watched, and chaffed Rawlins about the dinner he had to "stand"
the Lamp-post at the Club, the messenger-boy from the "wireless" room
brought aft the usual morning "Wireless Press News".

"Beg pardon, sir, but there’s something about you this morning," he
said, coming up to the Orphan.

"About me!  What d’you mean?"

"There, sir," and the messenger-boy pointed to the end of the last page.

They all crowded round the Orphan, who read: "The following additional
Naval honours appeared in last night’s _Gazette_", and at the end of the
list came—and the Orphan’s head buzzed—"Distinguished Service
Cross—Midshipman Vincent Orpen".

For a minute he wondered whether it was possible that there could be
another midshipman of the same name; but whilst the others thumped him
on the back and congratulated him, another messenger came flying down
from the bridge: "The Captain wants you, sir, at once."

Not knowing whether he was on his head or his heels, the Orphan flew up
to the fore bridge.

Captain Macfarlane smiled at him and tugged his beard.

"Is it really true, sir?"

"I imagine so; I sent your name in."

"What’s it for, sir?"

"I think, Mr. Orpen, for working that maxim in your picket-boat, at

"Thank you awfully, sir! but Plunky Bill was wounded twice, sir."

"Was he the seaman who fired it before you ’took on’?" asked the

"Yes, sir; he was hit twice before he gave up."

"I think, Mr. Orpen, you’ll find that he has not been forgotten."

"Thank you, sir, awfully!  I—I—must go and tell the Hun and the
Sub—won’t they be pleased?"

The Orphan thereupon dashed down the bridge ladder.

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           *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

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Gunboat and Gun-runner: A Tale of the Persian Gulf.

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